Monday, January 07, 2019

07-Jan-19: Pre-dawn Gazan rocket attack on Ashkelon is thwarted

The marina at Ashkelon [Image Source]
It's a little after seven in the morning on a chilly January Monday and the sleep-deprived citizens of Ashdod are, not for the first time, counting their blessings.

Around three this morning, incoming-rocket warnings were sounded in the coastal city that has the misfortune of being within easy firing range of the rocket-rich Gaza Strip and its mayhem-minded terrorist hordes:
...[W]arning sirens blared in the southern city of Ashkelon and the nearby Ashkelon beach region after 3 am. The IDF said it identified a single launch from Gaza that was intercepted by Iron Dome. Residents reported hearing loud explosions, apparently from the interceptor. The launch came hours after the Israeli Air Force struck two Hamas positions in the eastern Gaza Strip in response to an explosive device that was flown into southern Israel earlier in the day, the army said. On Sunday morning, a bomb was flown into Israel using a large cluster of balloons and a drone-like glider device, landing in a carrot field in the Sdot Negev region of southern Israel shortly before noon... ["Air force hits Gaza targets after rocket fired into Israel", Times of Israel, January 7, 2019]
Following the now-familiar playbook, the in-bound rocket was aimed at civilian targets (Ashkelon is not a military base but a bustling city of about 140,000 civilian residents). The fact that it was intercepted mid-flight indicates it was on-target for causing the very sort of damage and destruction that it was intended to. The Iron Dome system calculates the trajectory of enemy rocket attacks before telling its operators whether or not to commit to firing off one of its counter-measure rockets.

No less familiar, Israel's response was to fire from the air against "several terror targets at a Hamas training camp in the northern Gaza Strip" according to Times of Israel quoting the IDF. Since this happened in the dark of the early morning, it's likely no one was injured on the ground.

Yesterday's balloon attack: The payload exploded while
being examined by Israeli police [Image Source: IDF]
Yesterday (Sunday), a brightly-colored, large cluster of balloons carrying an explosive payload as well as (bizarrely) a non-functioning drone-looking device floated across Gaza's frontier with Israel and exploded in a carrot field in one of southern Israel's Gaza containment communities:
The balloons were attached to a drone, which was labeled with a logo from the Gaza engineering college. The balloons sat in a field near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip for most of the day before security personnel could raise the drone using heavy machinery. When that occurred, the device detonated, but the incident did not cause any damage or injuries. Palestinians frequently send balloons, kites and other items laced with incendiary devices over the border fence in attempts to harm Israeli territory, since the "Great March of Return" riots along the fence began in March 2018. The devices have burned more than half the forested land in the area, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) data showed in October... ["Israel hits Hamas posts after incendiary balloons, drone, fall near border", Jerusalem Post, January 6, 2019]
Given the very different kind of media coverage terrorism gets here versus outside Israel, the capacity of Hamas' rocket-equipped forces to deliver serious and deadly harm to Israelis is well-recognized by Israelis; much less so by people far from the scene. Less than a month ago, some 300 Israel-bound rockets were fired from Gaza [Ynet, December 11, 2018] during a single, very violent 5-hour time span on a Monday evening.

No one expects attacks of that sort to end soon.

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