IDF Spokesman, Brigadier-General Moti Almoz, issued a direct warning to Hamas on Thursday, telling the terror group that the IDF was ready to up the ante and intensify its responses should the rocket attacks on southern Israel continue.
Early Thursday morning, Israeli Air Force (IAF) aircraft targeted a concealed rocket launcher, a weapons storage site and a center of terrorist activity in northern Gaza. The airstrikes came in retaliation for a rocket attack Wednesday night on the city of Ashkelon.
"The quiet we experienced in the past year is the result of Operation Pillar of Defense, and we think that this quiet will continue in the near future ," said Almoz, adding, “We have the ability to solve the shooting that has been happening over the past few days, whether it comes from Hamas or from the Islamic Jihad.”
Almoz said that the Islamic Jihad terror group was likely behind the recent rocket fire, as that group “has no responsibility over Gaza and it’s easier for them to be the so-called ‘rebellious son’. We are only interested in the result - if there is rocket fire on Ashkelon in the middle of the night - we do not agree with it.”
He further said that the IAF attack on Thursday morning targeted the Islamic Jihad in a more intensive manner than previous IAF airstrikes.
"That’s what we will continue to do," declared Almoz. “We constantly adjust our operational activities in the face of this threat, it is being done even as we speak.”
"Hamas is in control in Gaza - that is clear," the IDF spokesman stressed. “Hamas is responsible for any activity carried out in the Gaza Strip. If they step up their terrorist attacks, we will not hesitate to step up our response. We are monitoring Hamas’s activity and we will not give up on our mission to bring security to the residents of the south.”
Wednesday night’s attack involved five rockets fired by Gaza terrorists, all of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system before they could hit populated areas.
On Monday, Gazan terrorists fired two rockets at former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's funeral in the Negev.
The attack was particularly poignant as Sharon's 2005 "Disengagement" plan, which expelled all Jews from Gaza, created the vacuum of control over Gaza that the terror group Hamas soon filled, going on from there to fill Israel's air space with rocket attacks.