Thirteen of them around midnight last night, and at least two more this morning (Thursday). They landed in industrial areas, uninhabited open spaces and residential neighbourhoods and - as usual - at least one rocket landed inside the Gaza Strip itself with no reporting about the damage done by a rocket landing inside an area the Palestinian Arabs and some of the media like to call the most densely populated place on earth. Despite the property damage in the targeted Israeli cities, no physical human injuries are reported, though several residents of Sderot have had to hospitalized to be treated for shock.
Credit for the attacks has already been claimed by Islamic Jihad. The media are reporting their statement that the barrage is an "initial response" to the killing of four Islamic Jihad terrorists in an IDF action in Bethlehem yesterday (Wednesday). To place that in context, a Jerusalem Post article this morning says the now-dead terrorists included Mahmoud Shehada, 45, the commander of Islamic Jihad in Bethlehem and the person who planted a car bomb in November 2000 in one of the lanes running next to the Machane Yehuda market in central Jerusalem. Ayelet Hashacher Levy, the daughter of Rabbi Yitzhak Levy, the head of the National Religious Party at the time, was one of the innocent victims killed in that explosion.
PA President and lifelong Holocaust-denier Mahmoud Abbas reacted to the deaths of the four IJ terrorists too. Through his spokesperson, he called the four men "martyrs" and "heroes" today. Their deaths, resulting from an attempted arrest by IDF forces that turned into a two-way gunfight, constituted what he termed a "brutal crime against our fighters and people." Note that Shehadeh's body (according to AP) was wrapped in a Hezbollah flag signifying the ever-growing role of the Iranians in the Palestinian-Arab terror war against Israel.
Abbas is frequently called "moderate" by journalists and analysts who ought to know better or, alternatively, ought to be more open about their motives.
- As for example this morning's despatch from Ibrahim Barzak on the AP wire: "The US fears continued fighting will torpedo peace talks between Israel and moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas..."
- And this from AFP: "The Islamist movement has ruled Gaza since June when it ousted the rival forces of moderate Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, whose authority is now limited to the occupied West Bank".
- This one from the American ABC News: "New arrangements would allow forces loyal to moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to re-enter Gaza..."
- And this from the International Herald Tribune about "...the moderate president, Mahmoud Abbas, who governs from the West Bank".
- From a Scottish daily: "Mahmoud Abbas, the moderate Palestinian president, condemned the massacre..."
- And this from Ireland: "...moderate Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas condemned the shooting."
- This from Voice of America about "Condoleezza Rice [holding] talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, trying to get the moderate Palestinian leader to return to peace talks".
The shameful and transparent painting of a bogus "moderate" aura for Abbas has been a work-in-progress for years. For those of us personally caught up in that war, the labels and the semantic nonsense are a side-show. The man's actions are what counts, and what the man does is terrorism.
Leaving aside the spin and the fantasy, and returning to hard realities, it's reported that the IDF last night scored a direct hit on a fully-loaded Qassam rocket launch pad in northern Gaza just as a cluster of Palestinian Arab terrorists were preparing to fire rockets into Israel.