Islamic Jihad Renews Rocket Barrage on Israel, as Gaza Flare-Up Enters Second Day
Terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired rockets into Israel early Wednesday morning and the Israeli military hit back from the air, in a resumption of violence after an overnight lull.
The IDF said it took out at least three rocket-launching crews, a military spokesman said.
Iran-backed Islamic Jihad confirmed that two of its fighters were killed in separate strikes south of Gaza City during the morning. Medics later said another man was killed by an air strike while on a motorcycle.
The worst fighting in months on the Gaza border erupted on Tuesday after Israel killed Abu Al-Atta, a senior Islamic Jihad commander, accusing him of masterminding and planning attacks against Israel.
In response to the killing of Atta, Islamic Jihad fired about 200 rockets into Israel on Tuesday.
Despite attempts by diplomats to restore calm, an Islamic Jihad official told Reuters that his group told mediators it intended to carry on with its attacks.
“Attempts to restore calm did not succeed, the Islamic Jihad see that it is time to respond to the assassination policy, which was revived by the Zionist enemy,” the official said, asking not to be identified.
“The enemy will pay the price of its foolishness and we are determined to confront this aggression with all our might.”
However there was no sign that Hamas, the much larger Islamist group that controls Gaza, was inclined to be drawn into the fray. Hamas and Israel have managed to defuse previous escalations and avoid a full-scale conflict for the past five years, after fighting three wars from 2008-2014.
Sirens and explosions
The rockets from Gaza sent Israelis rushing to shelters in communities near the Gaza border and deeper in the country, with air raid sirens going off as far north as Tel Aviv and missiles striking Israeli highways and towns. There were no reports of deaths in Israel.
The Israeli military assembled armored vehicles along the border with Gaza, though a ground incursion into the territory seemed unlikely at this stage.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel, having taken out the Islamic Jihad commander, was not interested in a broader conflict.
“We don’t want escalation, but we are responding to every attack against us with a very sharp attack and response. Islamic Jihad best understand that now rather than when it’s too late for it,” Netanyahu said at the start of cabinet meeting.
Schools throughout much of southern Israel remained closed for a second day.