Israel Says Hamas Launched Latest Rocket Barrage
Security sources on Monday announced that the terrorist organization Hamas is responsible for recent rocket fire against Israel Monday morning.
At least 15 rockets were reportedly fired by Gaza terrorists since Sunday night, landing in the Eshkol and Sedot Negev Regional Council areas; in the Sedot Negev Regional Council two homes in the area were lightly damaged by shrapnel and two local residents were treated for anxiety and shock after the blast.
The security forces' recognition of the recent attack as being conducted by Hamas terrorists reportedly marks a first since the end of the counter-terror Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012. Hamas has not taken responsibility for the rocket fire officially.
While there has been a steady stream of rocket fire even since the Operation Pillar of Defense "ceasefire" that was brokered by Egypt, the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad terror group and terrorist factions other than Hamas have largely claimed the attacks.
Senior Hamas official Izzat al-Rishk commented on the rocket barrage Monday, threatening that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu can decide to start an escalation today, but "he doesn't have the ability to stop it tomorrow," reports Yedioth Aharonoth.
Al-Rishk went on to claim Israel airstrikes in response to the rocket attacks in recent days are a "desperate" measure to cover the "Israeli failure" in the investigation of the three kidnapped teens.
Hamas has picked up its threatening rhetoric recently.
Hamas Deputy Leader Moussa Abu-Marzouk revealed on his Facebook this week that Hamas has given the rocket launchers a free hand, not arresting a single one in the recent escalation since Hamas terrorists kidnapped three Israeli teens on June 12.
If true, the latest report of Hamas being behind the attacks would indicate that Abu-Marzouk was in fact downplaying Hamas's role in rocket fire against Israel.
Hamas threatened Israel last Wednesday, saying that if the IDF attacks Gaza Hamas will attack Haifa, a day after senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar declared that Hamas has rockets that can hit any city in Israel.
Responding to the recent escalation in rocket attacks from Gaza, in which a factory in Sderot was directly hit and burned to the ground on Saturday night, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel is ready to expand its operations in Gaza as needed.
Eshkol Regional Council head Chaim Yelin spoke to Channel 2 on Monday morning about the recent rocket barrage, saying "Israel's deterrence has completely dissipated."
"The feeling is that we are going back several years. We're going back to experience the days between Operation Cast Lead and Operation Pillar of Defense," said Yelin, noting a period of intense rocket fire.