Yesterday morning 30 mortar shells were fired into Israel from Gaza. One of the shells landed in the yard of a kindergarten in a kibbutz near the border. Thankfully no children were there. Five Israelis, including 3 soldiers, were wounded from shrapnel from other explosions. Red Code warning alarms were sounded throughout the region including in the cities of Ofakim, Ashkelon and Sderot, throughout the afternoon and into the evening. The IDF said that 25 mortars were intercepted by Iron Dome missiles on Tuesday. On Monday night machine gun fire from Gaza hit several structures and vehicles in Sderot. There were no casualties.
In response to the mortar attacks, the IDF attacked 40 terror targets in Gaza belonging to both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, including weapons storehouses, outposts and a Hamas tunnel near the Kerem Shalom border crossing which penetrated 900 meters into Israeli territory. Then, in response to more rocket fire, the IDF hit another 25 Hamas targets overnight. The IDF said that among the targets were drone storage facilities, rocket and armament manufacturing installations, training camps, military installations, advanced naval armaments and anti-aircraft missile components. However, the IDF did not target homes of commanders in the terror groups or mounted any targeted killings.
There were no casualties reported in any of the attacks.
One of the rockets fired from Gaza hit an Israel Electric Company facility transferring electricity into Gaza. The rocket damaged equipment, causing three power lines supplying electricity to the strip to malfunction. The electric company said that an initial evaluation showed it would take several days to fix the equipment and resume regular supply. Another of the rockets fired last night hit a house in one of the Israeli communities near the border, but miraculously, there were no injuries. And yet another rocket hit a stadium in Netivot, causing damage but no casualties.
In total, in less than 24 hours, over 100 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel, with some 40 intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Most of the launches were carried out with the help of timers, making it harder on the IDF to track perpetrators before or after a launch.
Israeli analysts are saying that the fact that Hamas did not fire any mid to long range rockets and that the IDF attacks were planned to cause no casualties indicates that both sides want to avoid an escalation of the conflict into all out war. Hamas has apparently ceased firing more rockets today and is preventing other terror groups in Gaza, like Islamic Jihad, from firing rockets.
Israeli ministers are denying that any ceasefire agreement has been made with Hamas.
Representatives of the US, France, Ireland, the EU and the UN condemned the Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza.
Jason Greenblatt, US Middle East envoy, tweeted, “Reprehensible – mortars fired from Gaza at a kindergarten and community in Israel! Hamas has failed – all it can offer is terror. Palestinians in Gaza need real leaders to work on Gaza’s real problems with its water, its economy and so much more.”
A spokeswoman for the French Foreign Affairs Ministry published a statement saying, “France unequivocally denounces fire at civilian populations that only luckily did not claim any victims. France is unconditionally committed to Israel’s security. France denounces the resumption of violence, which is not congruent with a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney tweeted, “I strongly condemn firing of rockets from Gaza at Israel today. I continue to advocate strongly for people of Gaza who live in impossible conditions, but this Hamas-led violence undermines Palestinian cause + is counterproductive to political progress.”
Emanuele Giaufret, the EU envoy to Israel, tweeted, “As kids were preparing for school this morning a barrage of rockets from Gaza fell on southern Israel. One landed outside a kindergarten. I know the resilience of communities in southern Israel but indiscriminate attacks are totally unacceptable and to be condemned unreservedly.”
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UN Security Council
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called for a Security Council meeting to condemn the rocket attacks from Gaza. She said, “Mortars fired by Palestinian militants hit civilian infrastructure, including a kindergarten. The Security Council should be outraged and respond to this latest bout of violence directed at innocent Israeli civilians, and the Palestinian leadership needs to be held accountable for what they’re allowing to happen in Gaza.”
The United States circulated a draft statement calling on the council to condemn “in the strongest terms the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinian militants in Gaza” toward Israel. The council will hear a report from UN envoy for the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov during the meeting scheduled today.
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