Fire will be met by fire and quiet by quiet, a top IDF officer said Saturday
night after a day of continued violence in the South in which 23 rockets were
fired into Israel and a cease-fire was reportedly going into
Nearly 150 have been fired into the country since the beginning
of hostilities on Monday. The Iron Dome intercepted five Grad rockets over
Ashkelon on Saturday.
A number of rockets on the same day targeted
Sderot, injuring a factory worker.
One projectile also smashed into an
empty school, causing extensive damage.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
spoke by phone on Saturday with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of General
Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz and directed them to “continue to act strongly to
protect the security of the residents of the South.”
Except for comments
he made to the Likud faction meeting last Monday following the killing of Sa’ed
Fachachte, who was working on the security fence along the border with Egypt,
Netanyahu has made no public statement over the last week regarding the recent
Netanyahu, one government official said, has been careful to
be “very measured” in his public comments about the situation. The official
denied, however, that the volatile situation in Egypt or the scheduled visit on
Monday by Russian President Vladimir Putin has had any impact on Israel’s
reaction to the barrage of rocket fire on the South. He said the IDF’s reaction
to this round of violence was not significantly different than it was to a
similar escalation some two months ago.
Netanyahu has said repeatedly in
the past that the one of the many benefits of the Iron Dome system was that it
gave Israel more flexibility in determining how and when to respond, preventing
Jerusalem from being dragged into a widescale conflict in Gaza at a time not of
its own choosing. The logic is that, were it not for the Iron Dome and were
dozens of rockets and missiles falling on major population centers and causing
casualties, Israel would have had no choice but to launch a massive military
action against Gaza.
The Israel Air Force retaliated with a number of air
strikes late Friday night after terrorist groups in Gaza – although not Hamas –
fired rockets into Israel despite reports that an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire
had gone into effect in the morning. IDF sources said that most of the rocket fire over the weekend was carried out by the Popular Resistance
Committees and other small terror factions.
In response to the rocket
attacks on Friday, early Saturday morning the IAF bombed three Hamas bases in
the Gaza Strip, wounding around 20 people. In response, Hamas fired rockets and
mortar shells mostly into Sderot. The factory worker was injured in one of the
attacks while seeking cover.
He sustained moderate shrapnel wounds to his
neck and stomach and was rushed to the Barzilai Medical Center in
A factory manager said that the site had been hit twice before,
but that on this occasion, expensive equipment worth millions sustained a direct
hit. Two other civilians were treated for shock in the attack.
cannot remain silent in the face of the recent escalation of violence in the
South, Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i said Saturday morning during a
visit to Sderot and the Sha’ar Hanegev region. The minister also paid a visit to
the IDF’s Gaza Division for an operational review of recent events.
hold Hamas fully responsible for everything that happens in the Gaza Strip,”
Vilna’i said. “Israel is working, and will continue to work with a heavy hand
against those terrorists that want to escalate the situation in the
Also Saturday, the IAF carried out an air strike against
Palestinians spotted preparing to launch rockets into Israel. Two Palestinians
were killed, raising the death tally to 14.
“We will continue operating
to prevent the rocket fire but in general, quiet will be met by quiet and fire
by fire,” a senior IDF officer said Saturday night.
The officer said that
Israel had received signals from the Egyptians that Hamas was interested in
ending the current round of violence. He attributed Hamas’s interest in stopping
the fighting to the IDF’s aggressive response Friday night and Saturday to the
rocket fire, which included bombings of several of the group’s military
“Hamas was surprised by the bombing of one of its bases since
until now the IDF has limited its attacks to smaller outposts,” the officer
said. “This made Hamas understand that it is in its interest to obtain
The officer said that while Hamas was not behind most of the
rocket fire over the weekend, Israel expected it to rein in the other terror
factions in Gaza and to stop their rocket attacks.
“If the attacks
continue though, the IDF will not hesitate to act against the terrorists
launching the rockets,” the officer said.
Jerusalem Post staff
contributed to this report.