Hamas neared Israel’s industrial heartland Thursday night with two missile attacks on Kiryat Gat, home to a huge Intel factory. No one was injured, and the IDF already has retaliated with an aerial strike on terrorist targets.
One of the missiles exploded at a cattle barn outside of the city just one second after the Color Red siren sounded. The system is supposed to give residents 20 seconds to scurry for bomb shelters.
Kiryat Gat is located halfway between Be’er Sheva, the capital of the Negev, and Rehovot, the southern edge of metropolitan Tel Aviv. Hamas has not struck Kiryat Gat since Israel’s counterterrorist Operation Cast Lead campaign two and a half years ago.
These latest missile attacks are not a lone incident. Three other rockets exploded south of the port city of Ashkelon, where oil and natural gas facilities are located. One other rocket exploded between Ashkelon and Kiryat Gat Wednesday night.
Hamas has slowly escalated the number of its rocket attacks in the past month, attacking Israel with four times the number of missiles than it did in June.
The terrorist organization may be testing Israel as the United States pressures the Netanyahu government and Hamas' rival Mahmoud Abbas to find a mechanism allowing a return to direct talks for creating a Palestinian Authority state so as to abort Abbas’ threat to circumvent reaching a peace agreement by appealing to the United Nations for recognition.
Hamas also might be trying to determine if the Israeli government is in too weak a position to stage a large-scale retaliation because of the growing social protest movement. Hamas has been holding military exercises and maneuvers.
Recent history has shown that IDF retaliation to rocket attacks is limited so long as there are no injuries or heavy property damage from Hamas missiles. However, the closer Hamas reaches metropolitan Tel Aviv, the higher the chances that the IDF may react more harshly in an effort to prevent the next missile attack from causing a tragedy and sprarking an all-out war.