23/09/2020

IDF expects another day of rocket fire.

Barrages of over a dozen rockets were launched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad towards southern and central Israel shattered a brief quiet felt overnight.
Incoming rocket sirens sounded in Gaza border communities and shortly afterwards near Latrun and Beit Shemesh outside Jerusalem. Residents reported hearing loud explosions, likely Iron Dome missile defense interceptors fired towards the rockets fired from Gaza.
Another salvo was then fired towards the southern city of Netivot followed by one towards Ashkelon and neighboring communities.Following the rocket fire the IDF struck a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) target in the central Gaza Strip, killing one Palestinian identified as as 38yr old Khaled Moawad Faraj, a field commander with the terror group.
The rocket fire came after a six hours of relative calm where no rockets were fired after over 200 rockets were fired towards southern and central Israel after the IDF assassinated PIJ commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata in a pre-dawn precision airstrike.
The IDF launched three waves of retaliatory airstrikes, hitting dozens of targets belonging to the group across the blockaded coastal enclave.
Tuesday night PIJ spokesperson Abu Hamza warned that the “coming hours will add a new title of defeat for [Israeli PM] Netanyahu.”
According to IDF spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman, the overnight calm was not indicative of a ceasefire but rather that PIJ was managing their weapon stockpile for several days of fighting.
“Palestinian Islamic Jihad resumed firing this morning and the group intends to fire rockets in a way similar to what we saw yesterday,” Zilberman said Wednesday morning. “PIJ is being meticulous and managing its stockpiles for several days of fighting and is keeping all their options on the table.”
According to the spokesman, Hamas has not yet been involved in the fighting but “the situation is fragile” and as such the IDF has targeted PIJ positions and infrastructure that might injure or kill civilians so Hamas won’t have a reason to join in.
“We are not attacking Hamas and the PIJ targets we are striking are not in the center of Gaza City like 5-story buildings because we understand that we are walking on a tightrope. We do not want to kill civilians which could lead Hamas to join the fighting combat.”
The IDF is also continuing to gather intelligence against PIJ targets across the Strip.
“We have a relatively rich PIJ target bank, and we will continue to prepare additional options, both defensive and offensive,” Zilberman said.
While the IDF doesn’t want the situation to escalate into a military operation inside the Strip, there has been a small increase in troop deployment along the Gaza border fence with a limited number of companies and battalions.
Al-Ata was described by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi on Tuesday as the man “who undermined the quiet in southern Israel” and who “acted in every way to sabotage attempts for calm with Hamas. He was a living ticking bomb, and up until today worked and planned attacks. He was responsible for the majority of attacks that took place over the past year.”
The military has since June working to stop al-Ata from continuing to plan and carry out attacks and rocket fire towards Israel.
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