: Ynetnews Unanticipated Gaza rocket leaves Israel with tough choices
Monday 25/March/2019 - 01:54 PM
A long-range rocket attack covering some 100km caught Israel by surprise; the rocket، apparently launched by Islamic Jihad، hit an area not believed to be protected by the Iron Dome missile defense system; now Israel must deliver a harsh response in a bid to restore some of its shattered deterrence without setting the West Bank alight too The rocket launch early Monday morning، that hit a house in the Sharon region، took Israel completely by surprise. It was carried out in order to cause casualties. The large rocket، apparently an M-75 and apparently manufactured by Islamic Jihad، was fired at dawn، when people were still sleeping. The rocket was fired to its maximum range (80-140 km) towards an area of Israel that the people who launched it believed was not protected by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
The rocket، which probably carried a warhead containing dozens of kilograms of explosives، hit the center of the living room. Fortunately، the family members were sleeping in inner rooms، and therefore escaped serious injury. The building، made of reinforced concrete with large windows and openings، also helped to dilute the impact of the blast.
An Egyptian intelligence delegation was supposed to arrive in Gaza on Monday morning، to renew negotiations with Hamas on a phased arrangement in which the Gaza Strip would receive benefits from Israel، Egypt and Qatar، in return for a stable and long-term calm.
The immediate aim of the negotiations and of the Egyptians، with Israel's encouragement، was to prevent a major escalation at the end of this week، which will mark the first anniversary of the March of Return demonstrations، and the airborne incendiary and explosives devices that set swathes of southern Israel alight. It is unlikely، therefore، that Hamas is behind the rocket launch، for the organization that governs the Gaza Strip does not want a rift with Egypt، for the Egyptians could well close the Rafah crossing and turn the Gaza Strip into one big prison.
The other Gaza terrorist organization that produces and fires such rockets is Islamic Jihad، which is supported and directed by Iran. Islamic Jihad recently appointed a new extremist leader، Ziyad al-Nakhala، and has declared that it will not tolerate the deaths of Palestinians.
Six people were killed last week (two of them on Friday in the riots along the Gaza-Israel fence) and it appears that the rocket fire was carried out، perhaps even in sly coordination with Hamas، as retaliation.
Another possible motive is the jamming of cell phones smuggled in to terrorists in Israeli prisons، which has caused violent protests among inmates. On Sunday، a prison guard was stabbed and moderately wounded during a riot at Ketziot jail the Negev، and several prisoners were seriously wounded.
Israel was taken totally by surprise، due to an assessment that Hamas neither wanted to provoke Egypt nor trigger a major war with the Jewish state. But the Islamic Jihad has its own agenda، which is relatively free of concerns for the population، and therefore can launch a rocket at such a tense time and in an unprotected area، with the goal of causing casualties.