IDF officials say the 200 rockets firedat Israel's southern communities since Friday marks a “dramatic development in terms of the quantity and rate of the fire.“In the first three days of the current round of fighting we’ve sustained a larger quantity of rockets than the quantity fired at Israel in the two previous rounds, in August and October, which were longer,” an army official said.
Senior security officials in Jerusalem believe Islamic Jihad and its terror confederates - which they say include Fatah members in Gaza - will not stop firing rockets until theyIsrael's civilian population a significant blow.
“Islamic Jihad views its blows to Israel as highly limited given the success of Iron dome,” the IDF said. “The various organizations are currently trying to produce an image of victory.”
Iron Dome has, thus far, intercepted 90% of the incoming rockets targeting Israel's southern communities.
Israeli officials also laid the rising body-count of Gaza residents killed in Israeli pre-emptive and retaliatory strikes – 25 thus far – squarely on the shoulders of the terror groups, saying they are using civilians as “human shields.”
“Civilians who were not taking part in hostilities have been wounded in an Air Force strike on a terrorist cell launching medium-range rockets from a populated area in the northern Gaza Strip,” the IDF Spokesman’s said.
“This incident demonstrates that terrorist groups in Gaza use human shields and fire rockets from densely populated areas,” the statement added.
Legal experts say mounting rocket strikes from civilian areas is a violation of the rules of war and the onus for civilian casualties rests with the terror groups.
Over 200 rockets have been fired at Israel's southern communities since Friday evening. Monday afternoon's preemptive strike brings the death toll in Gaza from retaliatory raids to 25.
Nonetheless, Gaza terror groups say they will "not be the first to blink" and rocket fire continues unabated.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said earlier on Monday "if the rocket fire escalates, Israelwill continue air strikes against terrorist targets."
Minister of Strategic Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said "At this point we see no need to enter Gaza, but the possibility exists."
Yaalon has previously called for a major incursion into Gaza, but on Israel's terms at a time of its own choosing.
Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Israeli is prepared to step up its activities in the Gaza Strip if rocket fire continues.
Speaking in the morning at a Likud faction meeting, the Prime Minister said, "The Israel Defense Forces is prepared to expand its activities [in the Gaza Strip] as much as is necessary."
Meanwhile, the Middle East quartet issued a statement raising concern over the "grave situation in Gaza and southern Israel and expressed serious concern for the recent escalation and called for calm."
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday he was extremely worried by a recent flare-up in violence between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
"I am gravely concerned at the latest escalation between Gaza and Israel and once again civilians are paying a terrible price," Ban told the UN Security Council. He said rocket attacks on Israeli civilians were "unacceptable" and urged Israel to "exercise maximum restraint."