Israeli officials responded late Monday night to reports that a cease-fire had been brokered with Palestinian groups by saying that "quiet from the Palestinian side will be answered with quiet."
The officials were responding to an Al Arabiya reported that suggested Palestinian groups in Gaza had agreed to reach a cease-fire with Israel, but Islamic Jihad was still demanding an Israeli ceasefire first, according to Israel Radio.
According to the report, which could not be independently verified by The Jerusalem Post, Hamas and other groups were waiting to hear from Israel on the ceasefire.
Islamic Jihad escalated its rocket fire into Israel on Monday, striking
as far north as Gedera as Egyptian diplomats worked to broker a
cease-fire between the Palestinian terrorist group and Israel.
IDF officers were skeptical that the mediation efforts would succeed
and said that plans were in place to escalate Israel’s ongoing military
operations, including the possible launching of a ground offensive into
the Gaza Strip if the rocket fire continued.
depends on Hamas and Islamic Jihad but we are prepared for all
scenarios,” a top officer in the Southern Command said Monday night.
Monday, nearly 50 rockets pounded Israel including several that landed
in Beersheba and Ashdod despite Iron Dome rocket-defense batteries
deployed nearby. The system succeeded in intercepting 11 rockets out of
18 throughout the day.
In total, over 200 rockets have been fired
into Israel since hostilities began on Friday, including 50 with ranges
of over 20 kilometers. Some of the rockets were manufactured
domestically in the Gaza Strip.
A senior IDF intelligence officer
said that Islamic Jihad was currently focused on “saving face” and
creating a “victory image” with which it will be able to claim that it
defeated the IDF.
reality, the officer said, Islamic Jihad has suffered heavy losses
throughout the four days of fighting, including over 20 dead operatives
and extensive damage to its terrorist infrastructure.
said that Iran was actively encouraging Islamic Jihad to continue
firing rockets into Israel. According to the officer, Iran was concerned
that if Islamic Jihad stopped now, it would appear weak and bruised for
failing to exact a heavy price from Israel during the current round. As
a result, the terrorist group was under orders to continue attacking.
IDF will continue to protect Israeli citizens and will strike all those
who rise to attack us,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday. “Those
who attack our civilians will be punished.”
The current round of
violence began on Friday afternoon after Israel assassinated the leader
of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in the Gaza Strip who the
IDF said was plotting an attack against Israel along the Egyptian
The officer said that it was still unclear if the attack
the PRC leader had been plotting was foiled or if it was still underway.
to the officer, Hamas was mostly “sitting on the sidelines” and was not
actively participating in the rocket attacks against Israel. On the
other hand, the officer said, Hamas is also not working to prevent the
“It is possible for this round to end soon if Hamas
and the Egyptians step up their involvement in influencing Islamic
Jihad,” the officer said.
IDF said that 25 Palestinians, including three civilians, were killed
in the fighting since Friday. One of the dead was a 15-year-old youth.
Gaza medical officials said that another 74 have been wounded.
senior officer from the Southern Command said that the IDF was prepared
for the possibility that Islamic Jihad would try to launch one of the
Iranian Fajr artillery rockets that it recently received and which are
capable of striking inside Tel Aviv.
“This is always a
possibility but they understand what the implications would be, although
this does not mean that it will not happen,” the officer said.
the third day in a row, the IDF Home Front Command and the heads of a
number of local authorities in the South decided Monday night to cancel
school in all communities located between seven and 40 kilometers from
the Gaza Strip.
The closure applies to Ashkelon, Ashdod,
Beersheba, Netivot, Sderot, Kiryat Malachi, Gedera, Rahat, Yavne, Lakiya
and the Gan Yavne Regional Council.
Classes will still be held in the Brenner regional council, the town of Yesodot, Bet Guvrin, Beit Nir, Gal-on, and Shomreyah.
The cancellation does not apply to schools in the western Negev that are within 7 kilometers of the Gaza Strip.
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.