Smoke trails are seen as rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip fired a total of 35 projectiles toward Israel over the past year, up from the two previous years.
According to statistics published by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit on Sunday, 2017 saw the most serious peak of violence between Israel and terrorist organizations in Gaza, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), since the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
Most of the fire is believed to have come from groups like PIJ and smaller Salafi groups. Israel holds Hamas responsible and retaliated by striking 59 terrorist targets in the Hamas-run enclave, including observation posts, military compounds, weapons depots and weapons production sites.
The majority of projectiles were fired towards the South from late October after the IDF discovered and destroyed a cross-border Islamic Jihad terrorist tunnel and following the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by US President Donald Trump.
While the vast majority of the projectiles landed in open territory, causing no damage or injuries, around 10 struck in residential areas or were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
While the past year has seen almost double the amount as the previous two years combined – there were 15 in 2016 and 21 in 2015 – it was still considered a relatively quiet year for the South as almost every year since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 the number of rockets fired towards Israel was in triple digits.
In 2007, Israel was hit by 2433 projectiles and in 2008, during Operation Cast Lead, terrorist groups fired 3,557 projectiles. In 2012, during Operation Pillar of Defense, 2,771 rockets struck the country and in 2014, which coincided with Operation Protective Edge, Israel was bombarded by 4897 projectiles.
A number of projectiles also struck the northern border believed to be due to ongoing fighting in Syria. Israel carried out several retaliatory strikes against Syrian positions.
But while the Assad regime has warned Israel of “serious consequences if it repeats similar aggressive actions under any pretext,” the border with Hamas is considered the most explosive front.
The continued rocket fire towards southern communities has led to many officials calling for a stronger response to rocket fire – a reaction IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot called “irresponsible.”
According to Eisenkot, the dire humanitarian situation in the Strip, which led Hamas to reconcile with the Palestinian Authority, can lead to instability and while the IDF does not intend to escalate the situation, Hamas is trying to carry out terrorist attacks in the West Bank in order to keep the Gazan front quiet.
Last week a source in the Shin Bet stated that “recently there has been a growing motivation by Hamas headquarters in the Gaza Strip to carry out terrorist attacks through operatives in the West Bank.”
Data released by the IDF showed that 20 Israelis were killed and 169 injured in 99 terrorist attacks over 2017, up from 17 killed and 263 injured in 269 terrorist attacks originating in the West Bank in 2016. While it was an increase by four dead, it was still a large decrease from the 93 killed and 882 wounded in 100 terrorist attacks in the West Bank in 2014.