Israeli Air Force planes bombed a smuggling tunnel along the Egyptian border at Rafiah early Tuesday morning as the government continued tit-for-tat retaliation against Arab terrorist attacks on southern Israel. Unconfirmed reports from Arab sources said three tunnel workers and smugglers were killed and six others wounded.
Terrorists, for the first time in a month, struck south of Ashkelon Monday night and wounded one soldier with a mortar shell. The retaliation was the first aerial operation in two weeks.
Monday night’s attack followed a steady escalation in the past few days of sniper fire and mortar and rocket attacks from Gaza. Israeli soldiers killed one suspected terrorist on Monday after a group of Arabs approached the Gaza separation barrier. Hamas claimed that the men were farmers.
Shortly afterwards, terrorists fired three mortar shells, bringing to more than 200 the number of rockets and shells fired on Israel since the end of Operation Cast Lead in January. Five weeks ago, Arab terrorists fired a Kassam rocket onto southern Israel.
Earlier this week, the government reported continued progress over the Iron Dome rocket defense system, but it is ineffective against short-range mortar shells. The Air Force has set up a new battalion to operate the system, which is scheduled for operation by next year.
The commander of the Air Force’s Northern Air Defense Division confirmed that the anti-missile system can stop Kassam and Grad rockets. Nonetheless, the system isn't fool-proof. "We cannot promise 100 percent hermetic defense,” he stated.