Two people in Sderot were wounded this Tuesday today after Islamic Jihad fired three rockets toward the Western Negev, shattering any hopes for an effective truce between Israel and terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
Islamic Jihad, a Gaza-based terrorist group supported by Iran, promptly claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that the aim of the rocket fire was to avenge an IDF raid that killed one of its members in the West Bank late Monday night.
Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Daniel Carmon, in a letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, said, “Israel considers today’s rocket attacks to be a grave and unequivocal violation of the ‘state of calm’ reached just a few days ago. Palestinian terrorism greatly jeopardizes and undermines the attempt to achieve a lull in violence. While Israel is aware that the ‘calm’ is likely to be fragile and short-lived, as today’s terrorist attack demonstrated, it has asserted its commitment to pursuing every avenue to achieve a non-violent solution. Following today’s violation, Israel will consider future steps.”
The rockets were launched by Islamic Jihad six days after Israel and Hamas agreed on a truce, through Egyptian mediation, promising to cease the violence that had plagued the area since 2000.
Two Islamic Jihad gunmen, one of them a senior operative by the name of Tarek abu Ghally, 25, were killed in a joint IDF-Shin Bet operation late Monday night in Nablus. The truce, however, when agreed upon did not include the West Bank.
“We cannot keep our hands tied when this is happening to our brothers in the West Bank,” the group said in a statement.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the rocket attack “came as result of Israeli provocation this morning.” He did mention, however, that Hamas was “committed to the calm”
In the first breach of the truce, a mortar shell from the Gaza Strip was fired. There were no reports of casualties or damage.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the reported incident on Monday evening, nor any confirmation from Palestinian sources that such an incident took place.
This truce was not expected to last, judging from past ceasefires between Israel and Hamas. According to Noam Bedein of the Sderot Media Center, 316 rockets were fired towards Israel over the last ceasefire. “People are pessimistic,” Bedein said. “As long as the weapon smuggling keeps on going on, people know what the end will be unless Israel defends itself. Everyone understands that it’s a matter of time before this “quiet situation” will erupt.”
Since Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip, over 4,000 rockets have been launched towards Israel.
250,000 residents of the western Negev live under the threat of almost daily rocket fire. In addition, between 75-94 percent of children in Sderot suffer from PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder).
Sam Harari can be reached at [email protected]