Israel’s Foreign Ministry says the Grad-type Katyusha rockets fired at Ashkelon came from Iran and may lead Israel back to Gaza.
“In the past 24 hours, over 15 heavy rockets were fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza against Israel’s southern port city of Ashkelon,” a Foreign Ministry dispatch to journalists and diplomatic staff said. “The 122 mm Grad rockets (also known as Katyushas), are a type of standard military artillery weapon produced in the former Soviet bloc and by other states deploying non-Western arms. It is manufactured to military standards, by a conventional arms industry, and is equipped with a weapons-grade high explosive fragmentation warhead.”
The Foreign Ministry pointed the finger at Tehran. “The Grad rockets fired today were apparently smuggled into Gaza from Iran via Egypt through tunnels and the breached Rafah border fence,” the dispatch stated. “Israel has repeatedly warned neighboring states and the international community about the arms buildup taking place in Hamas-controlled Gaza. Today’s attacks constitute a regretful yet unequivocal proof of the veracity of Israel’s warnings.”
Prior to the implementation of the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza and northern Samaria, anti-expulsion activists placed posters all around Ashkelon proclaiming that the withdrawal would herald missiles on the port city and advising resident to oppose the move or prepare for the attacks. Thursday’s missiles slammed into the campus of Barzilai Hospital, destroyed a family home in one of the city’s neighborhood, made a large crater in one of the city’s streets and stuck the municipal cemetery.
The Foreign Ministry statement ended with an acknowledgement echoing the predictions of Gaza’s Jewish evictees: that Israel will have no choice but return to settle the region. “Israel left the Gaza Strip over two years ago, with no intention of ever returning,” the statement said. “Yet, the continued escalation of Hamas terrorism emanating from Gaza, purposely targeting Israeli civilians, is liable to leave Israel with no choice.”