"Another Kassam rocket hits South"
Rocket attacks showed no sign of abating on Friday afternoon when a Kassam launched by terrorists in Gaza exploded south of Ashkelon. The IAF struck four targets in the Gaza Strip Thursday night in retaliation for the firing of a Kassam rocket earlier that evening.
The rocket had fallen near Ashkelon, causing no casualties or damage. Hours later, the military said it struck weapons factories and warehouses in the north, south and center of the Strip.
"IAF Responds to Rocket Strikes"
The Air Force took out weapons factories and warehouses in Gaza on Thursday night in response to recent rocket attacks. Strikes were carried out in northern, central, and southern Gaza.
Terrorists have greatly increased the frequency of their attacks on Israel over the past month. On Thursday, Israel Security Agency officials reported that Gaza terrorists had fired 35 rockets and six mortar shells at Israel in the month of March, compared to five rockets and five shells the month before.
"Israel launches air strikes on Gaza"
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz, citing the IDF, said the strikes were Israeli's initial response to an operation in Khan Younis that killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded two others.
Three of Friday's strikes occurred in Khan Younis, one occurred east of Rafah, one on a cheese factory in Gaza City and one northwest of Beit Lahia, which is northwest of Gaza, Palestinian officials said.
Other strikes were on the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, on a resistance training camp and on a Hamas outpost, they said.
"Israel Threatens To Escalate Attacks On Gaza"
Israel has warned a widescale military operation against Gaza could follow a string of air strikes which injured three Palestinian children.
Sky News Middle East correspondent Dominic Waghorn said the violence reflected a steady increase in tension in the region.
"Almost 20 rockets were fired out of Gaza last month, one of them killing a Thai farm worker in southern Israel," Waghorn said.
"Two Israeli soldiers were killed in a border clash a week ago, and there were airstrikes overnight.
"Now Israel's deputy prime minister Silvan Shalom is threatening an escalation in Israeli military activity if the rocket fire does not stop."
"Huge Weapons Cache Found in Sinai"
Egyptian troops found a huge weapons cache in central Sinai early on Thursday morning, according to the Egyptian daily Al-Yaum As-Sabach. The cache contained an estimated 100 anti-aircraft missiles, 45 missile launchers, 40 bombs, and more.
It is not yet clear where the weapons were from, or what their owners intended to do with them. However, troops suspect that the weapons were gathered by Sinai Bedouin who intended to smuggle them into Gaza.
"When will Israel invade Lebanon and Syria?"
When Israeli Minister without Portfolio Yossi Peled said recently that a war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah was “just a matter of time” and that such a conflict would include Syria, most observers dismissed the comment as little more than posturing by a right-wing former general. But Peled’s threat has been backed by Israeli military maneuvers near the Lebanese border, violations of Lebanese airspace, and the deployment of an anti-missile system on Israel’s northern border.
The increasing tension was behind the recent visit to Beirut by Senator Philippe Marini, French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s special envoy to Lebanon. After Marini met with Hariri, Christian Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, and Hezbollah leaders, the envoy said that he feared a Hezbollah-Israel rematch could easily become a regional war.
Rhetoric all over the region is heating up.
But ramping up the rhetoric of war in a volatile region can lead to a misstep—by accident or design—and once the dogs of war are off their leash, it will be hard to bring them to heel.
Again we are watching this evolving situation very closely. This recent outbreak of "back and forth" violence could end in a whimper or things could continue to escalate. Major skirmishes in the past have always started this way, but it isn't a given. At this point things could go either way (continued escalation or a quiet dissipation of such events) - it is too early to tell at this point.
The most pertinent question now is: Will Hamas continue to send missiles into Israel?
If this happens, you can count on further escalation.