An unknown terrorist organization calling itself the “Jihadi Resistance” has claimed responsibility for the multi-pronged terror attacks in the Eilat area last Thursday.
Since the announced Gaza ceasefire on Monday night, rocket attacks have continued, albeit less frequently. There have been a number of rocket attacks during the night as well as today, striking Gaza border communities including the Chof Ashkelon Regional Council. Baruch Hashem, no injuries were reported.
Despite the sharp decline in the number of attacks and the Hamas-declared ceasefire, residents of southern communities are instructed to remain close to shelters and safe rooms.
During Monday’s meeting of the Political-Security Cabinet it was announced that the ceasefire is a unilateral move, on the part of Hamas, with the cabinet releasing a clear message to the media that Israel will respond to any and all attacks originating from Gaza. That said, there have been no reports of Israel Air Force retaliatory attacks to the rocket attacks that followed the ceasefire declaration. The cabinet also voted against a major IDF ground forces incursion into Gaza at this time.
In Gaza, it is being reported that senior Hamas commanders are underground, fearing they may be targeted in surgical IAF strikes.
A short time ago, media messages from Gaza indicate Hamas is officially accepting a ceasefire, but at the time of this report, there has been no such move from Jerusalem. The Popular Resistance terror organization has told the media that while it will refrain from rocket attacks into Israel for now, it will not accept a ceasefire.
Voices from the political community in Jerusalem signal this ceasefire, which is accepted by Hamas, will be the litmus test to Hamas’ ability to prove to the world it is capable of running a civil society with an acceptable form of government since most terrorist factions have signaled the ceasefire is meaningless for them.
Some public figures have publicly criticized Israel’s lack of response to the over 100 rockets that bombarded southern townships over the weekend. Interestingly, one of those voices was former Labor Party leader Amram Mitzne, a retired IDF major-general and an ardent supporter of the left-wing camp. He called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a coward” and a leader who “simply reacts but fails to maintain his own policies”. Mitzne opposes a ground forces operation at this time, but feels the air force must inflict serious pain on Gaza terrorists to restore Israel’s deterrence capabilities, which he feels have all but been eliminated due to the failures of the current administration.
In a showing of solidarity with residents, President Shimon Peres today visited Ashdod, meeting with local leaders and trying to encourage residents to remain strong in the face of renewed rocket fire. Over the weekend, the president made shiva visits to the homes of the victims of Thursday’s attack near Eilat, which claimed 8 lives.
IDF Iron Dome commander Lt.-Col. Shabtai Ben-Bocher reports the rocket intercept system has prevented many attacks, but added it is far from perfect. In one successful Katyusha attack, one person was killed and eight injured. He was referring to the rocket that slammed into a Gur beis medrash in Ashdod on Friday.
Many terror victims remain hospitalized. A total of 8 victims remain in Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva. Three victims of Thursday’s multi-pronged terror attacks in the Eilat area are among those victims, with two listed in moderate condition and one light. Five persons injured by rocket shrapnel are also in Soroka. Two are listed in stable condition in intensive care units. Another is listed in moderate condition and two in light condition. Nine victim of Friday’s Katyusha rocket attack in Ashdod remain in Kaplan Hospital in Rechovot. Two are listed in moderate condition and the remainder light. Three victims of the Eilat area attack are also in Yosef-Tal Hospital in Eilat, reported in light and moderate condition.
Despite the summer recess, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin has announced a special Knesset plenum session for tomorrow, Tuesday, August 23, 2011, to discuss the recent renewal of rocket fire into southern Israel.
At this time, the state-of-emergency with all its accompanying restrictions on public gatherings remains in effect in the southern areas.
In the capital, Jerusalem police on Thursday afternoon stepped down from the heightened anti-terror alert in effect for 24 hours, an alert launched in response to credible intelligence community reports.
(YWN Israel Desk)