Sunday, February 23, 2020

Islamic Jihad Fires Barrage Of Rockets Into Cities/Towns In Southern Israel

Islamic Jihad pummels south with rockets after Gaza border clashes; no injuries

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group fired multiple barrages of rocket fire at cities and towns in southern Israel over the course of Sunday evening, more than half of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, the Israel Defense Forces said.
The projectiles that were not intercepted apparently struck open fields in unpopulated areas, causing neither injuries nor damage.
The rocket fire came after an irregular clash along the Gaza border earlier in the day in which Israeli troops shot dead a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group as he planted a bomb along the border. The Israeli military then retrieved his body using a bulldozer.
The IDF said at least 21 rockets were fired at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip in the first two bombardments, 13 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome.

The Islamic Jihad took responsibility for the attacks, writing on its website that it fired the rockets in response to Israel taking the terrorist operative’s corpse.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and senior members of Israel’s security services met in the military’s Kirya headquarters in Tel Aviv on Sunday night to discuss both a response to the attack and the situation in the Gaza Strip in general.

A central issue in these discussions would likely be whether to target only the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which the IDF believes was behind most of the recent attacks along the border, or to also strike the Hamas terror group, the de facto ruler of Gaza, for failing to rein in the Islamic Jihad.

The first, larger bombardment, shortly after 5:30 p.m., triggered multiple rounds of sirens on Sunday evening in the cities of Ashkelon and Sderot and in smaller Israeli communities in the area around the Strip known as the Gaza periphery.
The local councils for the Eshkol, Sha’ar Hanegev and Hof Ashkelon regions, as well as the Magen David Adom ambulance service, said they received no reports of direct injuries or damage caused by the rocket fire.
Residents of the area reported seeing Iron Dome missile defense batteries launching interceptor missiles amid the sirens.
A piece of shrapnel from an Iron Dome interceptor missile landed in a front yard a community in Sha’ar Hanegev, causing light damage but no injuries, a spokesperson for the region said.
The second wave of rocket fire, at around 8 p.m., was directed toward  the city of Ashkelon and the Eshkol region.

An Eshkol spokesperson said the projectiles fired at the region appeared to have landed in open fields outside the community of Kissufim.

At 9 p.m., a third round of sirens sounded in Sderot and the surrounding communities, sending thousands of Israelis rushing to bomb shelters. At least one Iron Dome missile was launched amid the sirens, with residents of the area seeing a mid-air explosion, possibly indicating an interception.
Fifteen minutes later, a rocket was fired toward Kibbutz Nahal Oz, just east of Gaza, which struck an open field outside the community, a spokesperson for the Sha’ar Hanegev region said.
Following the first attack, the city of Ashkelon said it was opening all of its public bomb shelters and was preemptively canceling school for Monday. The Southern Police District also announced it was bringing in additional officers to the area in case the rocket fire continued.

Earlier on Sunday, the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups denounced Israel for retrieving the body of the alleged bomb-planter.

The Islamic Jihad threatened that “the blood of martyrs will not be in vain.” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the “maltreatment” of the corpse was “another heinous crime that has been added to its record of awful crimes at the expense of our Palestinian people.”

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