Since Operation Cast Lead, over 306 rockets have been fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. On Sunday, January 10, Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu told cabinet ministers that he regarded the recent escalation of rocket attacks very seriously.
Rocket attack in Sderot. (Photo: Hamutal Ben Shitrit/Sderot Media Center)
“Last week 20 rockets and mortar rounds were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip. The Government’s policy is clear: Any firing at our territory will be responded to strongly and immediately.”
Both Netivot and Ashkelon were hit by Grad rockets in the recent rocket escalation. On New Years’ eve, two Russian-made Grad artillery rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip and struck Israel, with one hitting the southern town of Netivot, a city of about 26,000.
The Color Red system did not go off at the time of attack, and Netivot residents had no warning of the incoming rocket attack. No damages were reported but one woman suffered shock.
The last Grad rocket to strike Netivot had exploded near a synagogue nine months ago, causing heavy damage to the building.
A week later, on Thursday, January 7, a Grad-type Katyusha rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck a field south of Ashkelon, causing no damage or injuries. Air sirens, however, did sound, sending Ashkelon residents into panic.
Ashkelon, a coastal city with over 100,000 residents, has been a target of Palestinian-fired Katyusha rockets for nearly four years.
Since the start of 2010, tens of Iranian-supplied mortar rockets have also hit southern Israel. Terrorists also fired an anti-tank missile at IDF troops on the Gaza border.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) claimed responsibility for the recent firing of the rockets.
Hamas boasted on Friday Jan. 8, that it had managed to smuggle new types of weapons into the Gaza Strip. Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, published photographs on its website of the new weapons. The weapons include missiles with a double warhead, 107-mm caliber missiles that are designed to penetrate fortified structures and a new type of armor piercing RPG missile.
Abu Ubeida, the Hamas spokesman stated that the group “has thousands of fighters and good weapons capable of harming Israel.”
Former OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yom Tov Samia predicted on Sunday that another war with Hamas was inevitable.
“We are before another round in Gaza,” Samia told Army Radio in an interview.
“I am very skeptical about the possibility that Hamas will suddenly surrender or change its ways without being hit much more seriously than it was during Cast Lead.”