The Egyptian-brokered ceasefire which went into effect on Tuesday appeared to collapse Wednesday night when two Grad-model Katyusha rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip into Beersheba.
The IDF was expected to retaliate to the renewed rocket fire. Assessments within the IDF were that the rockets were fired by small, splinter terror groups and not by Islamic Jihad, which has behind the bulk of the rocket fire into Israel since Friday.
One of the rockets landed outside Beersheba and the second one was intercepted by the Iron Dome rocket defense system. No one was injured. On Tuesday night, a Grad-model Katyusha landed in Netivot.
Before the rocket fire Wednesday, OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo warned that Israel might be required to launch a large-scale operation in Gaza in the near future to stop the attacks.
“The IDF is doing everything to enable residents of communities near Gaza to maintain a normal life,” Russo said. “I do not know how long it [the ceasefire] will last and we might need to launch a large-scale operation in the future.”
Russo said that one of the problems Israel faced was that no single organization was completely in control of Gaza today. “There is no one who can just give an order and stop the rocket fire,” he said.
Also Wednesday, the IDF Home Front Command the Home Front Defense Ministry held a simulation to prepare for possible missile attacks against Tel Aviv and the larger Gush Dan region.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad are believed to have a number of Fajr-5 Iranian artillery rockets that are capable of striking inside Tel Aviv. Hezbollah also has a number of missiles such as the M-600 that could hit Tel Aviv in a future war.
Meanwhile, the IDF is also gearing up for a massive convergence on Israel’s borders later this month in what is being called the “Global March to Jerusalem.” Under the plan, on March 30, protesters from the Gaza Strip, Syria, Lebanon, and the West Bank will begin marching towards Jerusalem.
According to the movement’s website, the day will coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Palestinian “Land Day” and to raise awareness regarding Israel’s so-called occupation and ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem.
The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center released a report on Wednesday in which it claimed that Iran was actively supporting the organizers of the event.
IDF sources said that they were prepared for the marches and possible demonstrations along the border. In June, about 100 Syrians crossed into Israel.
“Since then we have purchased riot control equipment and developed new techniques and tactics to deal with such protests,” a senior IDF officer said.