Gaza terrorists switched their focus by midday Sunday and targeted the southern coastal city of Ashkelon.
Several barrages of long-range Grad Katyusha missiles were launched at the city. Nine rockets landed in and around the Ashkelon Regional Council district and the city itself during the course of the morning.
At least six missiles were launched towards Be'er Sheva before noon as well, with at least two being intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system. One landed on a school building that was empty due to the summer vacation. Another exploded on a road, and two landed in open areas on the outskirts of the city.
Rocket Barrage: Israel Biding Time
The ferocity of the more than 100 rocket attacks on southern Israel the past 48 hours has been met with silence as the Security Council discusses what – if any – action to take. The counterterrorist Operation Cast Lead campaign more than two years ago proved to be effective only temporarily, and most military officials predicted it would “only be a matter of time” until the next round, especially since international pressure put an end to the operation before it completed all its goals.
Israel mulls response to deadly Gaza Missile barrage
Palestinian forces operating out of the Gaza Strip fired nearly 100 missiles into southern Israel over the weekend, killing one person and wounding dozens more, and prompting Israel to consider a major military action against the Hamas-ruled territory.
On Saturday, scores of long-range GRAD missiles and short-range Kassam rockets rained down on the southern Israel cities of Beersheva, Ashkelon and Ashdod, as well as on numerous nearby villages.
One missile scored a direct hit on a house in Beersheva, wounding several people, including a baby.
Later that night, a missile hit a vehicle traveling in Beersheva, killing 38-year-old Yossi Shoshan, who was racing home to his nine-month pregnant wife as the air raid sirens sounded.
At least two more victims suffered critical injuries and are fighting for their lives at local hospitals.
The barrage continued Sunday morning, with one GRAD missile destroying part of a schoolhouse in Beersheva. Fortunately, the school was still empty for summer vacation.
Israel carried out limited aerial raids on terrorist installations in Gaza as the missiles were falling, but officials said such an assault by the terrorists demanded a more severe response.
Hamas, Arab League ask the UN to stop Gaza escalation
Just take a look at the quotes, and how this entire situation has been flipped upside down by Hamas. The term "unbelievable" doesn't even begin to describe this audacity:
The Arab League on Sunday condemned Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and said the United Nations must take action to end the attacks, in which 15 people have died.
"We issued a statement condemning the Israeli offensive on Gaza ... and Egyptian land," Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El-Araby told reporters in Cairo.
"The United Nations has to take procedures to stop the Israeli offensive on Gaza," he said, without giving details of the measures he was urging the UN to take.
So this has been turned into an "Israeli offensive on Gaza"?
The sad thing is, is the fact that people who haven't been keeping up with this situation will casually pick up a newspaper and assume that Israel is "invading" or "attacking" Gaza, and take this "fact" as gospel. The ignorance around all issues involving Israel is staggering.
Cabinet in Midnight Meeting as Attacks Continue
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's cabinet of eight trusted ministers is to meet late Saturday night to discuss the ongoing attacks from Gaza. Hamas has declared open war and is allowing – and carrying out – frequent rocket attacks on southern Israel.
Top IDF brass will be present at the midnight meeting as well, to give the military and intelligence perspective on events. Commanders will update the ministers on the latest incidents, and will take part in discussing various possible responses.
IAF strikes Gaza as rockets continue to pound south
Israel Air Force jets targeted a terror cell near the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya on Sunday. The operation followed a morning of incessant rocket fire by Gaza's terror groups at Israel's southern communities, on the heels of a hellish weekend suffered by the area's residents.
While Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council bore the brunt of Saturday's barrage, Beersheba seemed to be the terrorists' "favorite" Sunday, suffering rocket fire virtually every hour
IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai said Israel's current response to the surge in violence, was not its final word. Israel "will not hesitate" to widen its military operation if necessary, he told Israel Radio. "We will see how things develop on the ground," he added, without elaborating.
And on the heels of everything that is happening - we see an interesting analysis from Debka. From everything available to read on this most recent round of violence, Debka's analysis makes the most sense, and I believe accurately describes the situation:
Tehran pulls strings of Gaza Missile war, proxy Jihad Islamic leads offensive
The role of Iran and Hizballah in manipulating the ongoing Palestinian war on Israel from Gaza is manifest, DEBKAfile's military sources report.
They planned, orchestrated and funded the coordinated attacks on the Eilat Highway Thursday, Aug. 18 - in which gunmen shot dead eight Israelis and injured 40 - and its sequel: volleys of 90 missiles launched day and night from Gaza against a million Israeli civilians since then.
We already know from past experiences that Iran is typically behind the scenes, pushing the buttons in the Middle East.
The prime mover in the missile blitz is Tehran's Palestinian arm, the Jihad Islami, which is responsible for 90 percent of the launches. Hamas is left on the sidelines, cut off for the first time from top levels of authority in Tehran and Damascus.
Under Egyptian, Israeli and US noses, Tehran managed to transfer to its Palestinian arm in Gaza, the Jihad Islami, more than 10,000 missiles well in advance of the violence launched three days ago. Most of them are heavy Grads bringing Beersheba, capital of the Negev and Israel's 7th largest town (pop. 200,000), within their 30-kilometer range for a sustained, massive missile offensive.
Now the article gets really interesting and reveals what exactly is going on:
Tehran has now launched the hardware smuggled into the Gaza Strip ready for a Middle East war offensive for five objectives:
1. To leave Syrian President Bashar Assad free to continue brutalizing his population and ignoring President Barack Obama's demand backed by Europe that he step down.
2. To manufacture a direct military threat on the Jewish state, whose destruction is a fundamental of the Islamic Republic of Iran's ideology.
3. To thwart the Egyptian military junta's operation last week for regaining control of the lawless Sinai Peninsula and destroying the vast weapons smuggling network serving Iran in its capacity as the leading international sponsor of terror.
4. To render the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his bid for UN recognition of an independent state on Sept. 20 irrelevant. His isolation was brought home to him last Thursday by the coordinated Palestinian terrorist attacks near Eilat last Thursday.
5. To plant ticking bombs around Israel for potential detonation and explosion into a full-blown regional war.
The whole situation gets even more complicated:
Up until now, Israel declared the Hamas rulers of Gaza accountable for all attacks originating in the enclave.
That formula is no longer valid. The Eilat Highway attacks were planned and executed behind Hamas's back and so was the missile offensive - until Saturday night, when Hamas decided to try and step in. Both Hamas and Cairo are in fact out of the picture.
Israel's leaders are stuck for solutions because no one in Washington, Jerusalem or Cairo can be sure of the outcome of any military steps they might take. They can't be sure whether they will douse the violence or just play into the hands of Hizballah and Tehran who may have more shockers in their quivers ready to loose.
The "bottom line"?
Only three facts stand out from the fog of uncertainty:
- First, the security crisis besetting Israel has the dangerous potential for dragging the Middle East into a regional war.
- Second, America and Israel are paying in full the price of their quiescence in the face of Iranian, Hizballah and extremist Palestinian belligerence and active preparations for war, including the stockpiling of thousands of increasingly sophisticated weaponry on Israel's borders.
- Third, the first step an Israeli soldier or tank takes into the Gaza Strip to silence Jihad Islami's missile fire is more likely than not to precipitate a second Iranian-orchestrated assault on another of Israel's borders.
Sunday morning, no one in any of the capitals concerned was ready to risk guesstimating how far Tehran was ready to go in its current offensive and what orders Hizballah and its Palestinian puppets had received.
Additionally, if you are interested, below is a very interesting article which deals with Egypt's involvement:
Egypt's unreasonable outburst over soldiers' deaths
Just one small tidbit from this article:
The Egyptian public took its cue and beseiged the Israeli embassy in Cairo. On Sunday, that mob managed to break into the compound and raise the Egyptian flag over the Israeli mission.
Ever since the ouster of former dictator Hosni Mubarak in February of this year, there has been concern in Israel that the new powers rising in Egypt are looking for any excuse to cancel the Israel-Egypt peace treaty and return their nation to a state of open hostility with the Jewish state.
Cairo's reaction to the weekend of violence in southern Israel would appear to justify those concerns.
This is a very volatile situation, and as predicted Iran seems to be pushing the agenda. More rocket fire is expected and more regions around Israel are expected to be activated for violence.
Are we reaching a tipping point?
We may be seeing a general step-wise progression towards the regional battles that we have been expecting, based upon our readings of Isaiah 17 and Ezekiel 38-39.
Stay tuned - more is sure to come - sooner rather than later, as the violence shows no signs of slowing down.