Friday, December 29, 2017

29-Dec-17: Midday rockets from Gaza: two are intercepted in the air, one lands inside Israel

Kfar Aza around noon today [Image capture from this video]
It's a short and overcast Friday. In winter, the Sabbath arrives a little after four in the afternoon. But today, for thousands in Israel's south, the usual Erev Shabbat routine wasn't so routine.

Around 11:50 this morning, inbound rocket warnings were heard in dozens of Israeli communities in the a broad swathe of south-central Israel adjacent to the rocket-infested Gaza Strip.

Israel National News:
Sirens sounded in southern Israel as rockets were fired from Gaza at the Sdot Negev and Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Councils and two were intercepted by Iron Dome missiles. No one was hurt, but at least one building was damaged. According to an IDF spokesperson, three rockets were identified as being fired towards Israel, and the Iron Dome intercepted two of them. Arab media reported that IDF tanks responding to the rockets shot at targets in Gaza.
People attending a ceremony in Kfar Aza to mark the birthday of Oren Shaul took whatever cover they could as the photo above shows. To remind readers who do not recognize his name, the IDF has determined that he was killed in the fighting with Hamas during the summer of 2014. Hamas continues to hold his body for ransom.

Times of Israel says the third of today's three rockets
fell in Israeli territory in the Shaar Hanegev region, on the Gaza border.  Police said they found the rocket at the entrance to a building that had sustained damaged from the fall. Rocket warning sirens were heard shortly before midday in the Shaar Hanegev and Sedot Hanegev regions, sending frightened residents running to shelters. There were no immediate reports of casualties...
Zahava Shaul is accompanied to a nearby shelter as the rocket warnings are
heard [Image Source: Ynet]
UPDATE 2:30 pm December 29, 2017 | According to an updated Times of Israel report ["Gaza rockets apparently target ceremony for captured soldier", Times of Israel, today]:
The three rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel on Friday appeared to have been launched to deliberately coincide with a ceremony marking what would have been the 24th birthday of an IDF soldier who was killed, and whose remains were captured by Hamas, in 2014. A military official could not yet say that this was definitively the case, as the army was still investigating the issue, but said it “absolutely could be,” noting the uncommon timing of the attack. 
Ynet quoted Oren Shaul's mother, Zahava - imagine what the event must have felt like for her - saying "It's an unpleasant and frightening experience. The most important thing is that no one was hurt." The head of the Zionist Union political party Avi Gabbay who attended the ceremony said: "The rocket fire in the middle of the ceremony proves, more than a thousand witnesses, that deterrence has been lost. They knew there was a ceremony happening here, and they fired. It's intolerable. I hope our government responds properly." Among the other dignitaries present: Communications Minister Ayoob Kara (Likud); MK Oren Hazan (Likud); Golani Brigade Commander Shlomi Binder; Maj. Gen. (res) Hagai Topolanski, the former head of the IDF's Manpower Directorate; Haim Jelin MK, former head of the Eshkol Regional Council.

Times of Israel points out that
This month saw two weeks of near-daily rocket launches, the largest incidence of missile-fire from the Strip since the 2014 Israel-Hamas war. These daily attacks had recently seemed to have come to an end. According to Israeli assessments, the rockets are not being launched by Hamas, but by other terrorist groups in the Strip. However, analysts have noted that Hamas has been either unwilling or unable to clamp down on the groups, as it has in the past.

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