Israel, Gaza militants trade rocket and artillery fire

Israel bombs targets in the Gaza Strip after Palestinian militants fire dozens of rockets into the south. (Reuters)

Israel responded with artillery fire Wednesday to a barrage of more than 40 rockets, some of which hit populated areas in Israel, that were fired from within the Gaza Strip, army officials here said.

The barrage of rockets, three of which were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, marks the most severe escalation in violence since a one-week war between Israel and militant groups in November 2012 which left more than 160 Palestinians and six Israelis dead. There were no immediate reports of casualties on either side from Wednesday’s exchange.

“This retaliation was precise and prompt,” said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesman. “We targeted the infrastructure that serves the terrorists while they train, plan and implement their hideous attacks.”

Immediately after the rockets were fired into Israel, Palestinian media reported the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the al-Quds Brigades, as taking responsibility for the attack. The rocket fire was in response, they said, to an Israeli airstrike Tuesday that killed three of its members. In that incident, too, the Israeli military said it hit the Gaza strip in response to mortar shells fired at soldiers stationed along the volatile border.

“It seems that the rocket fire came in response to our counter-terrorism operations yesterday,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement. “We will continue to thwart and harm those who wish to harm us, and we will act against them with great intensity.”

Israeli soldiers and civilians in the southern Israeli city of Sderot stand next to a crater caused by a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip on March 12. The Islamic al-Quds Brigades took responsibility for the rocket attack. (David Buimovitch/AFP/Getty Images)

He added: “Last year, the number of rockets fired from Gaza was the lowest in a decade, but we will not settle for that. We will continue to ensure the security of Israeli citizens in the south and throughout the country.”

Despite the relative quiet last year, the first two months of 2014 have seen a slight escalation in tension between Israel and Gaza. Some believe that Hamas, the militant group that has ruled the seaside enclave since 2006, is slowly losing its grip on power due to changes in neighboring Egypt and across the region, allowing more militant groups to operate against Israel.

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon also said that Israel should respond with force.

“We will speak to the terrorists in a language that they understand and we will not accept a reality where the people in the south will sleep in bomb shelters, while the terrorists in Gaza walk freely,” he said in an interview.

Ruth Eglash is a reporter for The Washington Post based in Jerusalem. She was formerly a reporter and senior editor at the Jerusalem Post and freelanced for international media.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read World



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.