Rounding off the week with a new rocket attack, on late Saturday night, red alert sirens sounded in southern Israel warning residents to take shelter. The rockets, which were shot from the Gaza Strip, landed in open areas. Earlier in the week, on Thursday, a barrage of rockets was successfully intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. The rockets were headed toward the highly populated city of Ashkelon.
In response to Saturday’s attack, the IDF targeted several terror sites in the Gaza Strip and a Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative. The operative, Ahmad Sa’ad was a senior leader of the terrorist organization who, according to the IDF, “specialized in rocket launching” and was “personally responsible for the launching of five rockets towards Ashkelon on January 16, 2014.”
The IDF, in conjunction with the Israeli Air Force, struck Sa’ad while he was riding on his motorcycle in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip early Sunday morning. Sa’ad was seriously injured in the strike along with a 12 year old boy also on the motorcycle who was moderately injured.
Sa’ad has a long resume when it comes to terrorist activity against Israel. The IDF reports that over the last several years, Sa’ad’s terrorist activities include “concealing, directing, and launching rockets at southern Israel in numerous incidents including operation Pillar of Defense in Nov 2012, and multiple launches during an escalation of violence during March 2012.” The IDF confirmed that “in recent days Sa’ad was involved in substantial planning of rockets at Israeli civilians.”
Over the last several weeks, Israel has seen an uptick in rocket attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip. Besides for Thursday’s attack against Ashkelon, the IDF has to employ the Iron Dome system during the funeral of Ariel Sharon.
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, submitted an official complaint several weeks ago to the U.N Security Council regarding the increasing attacks. Prosor wrote “since 2005, Gaza has become a terrorist base used by Hamas to shoot rockets, carry out kidnappings, and launch attacks on Israeli citizens.”
As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gets set to present a framework peace deal at the end of the month between Israel and the Palestinians, the recent actions out of the Gaza Strip are viewed as serious setbacks to peace talks.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today in regards to the strike: “We are determined to maintain quiet in the south. We will do so by a policy of preventive action and strong reaction against those who try to harm us or who harm us. I suggest that Hamas take our policy into account.”