Israel under Fire
Since Friday (9 March), Israel has been under sustained rocket and mortar attacks, with more than 150 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at major population centres in the south of the country. The rockets and mortars attacks have engendered great disruption to lives of a million citizens of Israel living in the south who had no other option but to find refuge in shelters. In addition, about 200,000 pupils currently have no access to school.
Four civilians have been wounded so far, one suffered from serious injuries. Factories, schools, vehicles and many buildings were directly hit by rockets. The Iron Dome systems located around major populated cities in the area (Beersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon) proved to be very successful in preventing larger damage and casualties as it intercepted 90% of the rockets fired.
The terrorist organisations launching rockets and mortars from Gaza escalated the situation after Israel targeted two members of the Popular Resistance Committee, including Zujir Kaisi, the head of this terror group. Kaisi was targeted while planning a terror attack that was to take place in the coming days along the Israel-Egypt border. Kaisi planned, funded and directed the terror attack that took place along this border in August 2011, in which 8 Israelis were killed and 40 people were wounded.
Israel holds Hamas, the ruling power in the Gaza Strip since 2006, responsible for halting the launch of rockets at Israeli civilians. Although currently other terrorist organizations are behind the firing of rockets, Hamas bear overall responsibility and cannot hide from this fact.
The Israeli authorities are currently directing large efforts towards stopping the attacks on Israeli civilians and are taking every measure to avoid harm to Palestinian civilians. Israeli actions are defensive in nature and only target terrorists and terrorist infrastructure.
PM Netanyahu: “We will continue to hit whoever plans to attack citizens of the State of Israel. At the same time, we will continue to improve home front defence including by means of additional Iron Dome systems, the effectiveness of which was shown again over the weekend.”
Finally, according to a report by COGAT, this morning (12.03.12), three mortars were launched by Palestinians on the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom crossing.
A truck and a van on their way to deliver goods to the Gaza Strip were hit by the mortars. Following the shooting, activity at the crossing was suspended for just a few minutes. After evaluating the situation, it was decided to continue operations at the crossing, transferring the goods from Israel into the Gaza Strip.
Moreover, COGAT stresses that even yesterday the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings continued to function, despite the threats and constant firing by the terrorist organisations in Gaza. Yesterday, over 180 trucks were transferred to Gaza. The IDF will continue to act in order to prevent terrorism emanating from the Gaza Strip. At the same time, the IDF and COGAT will continue to distinguish between the terrorist organisations and the civilian population. Despite the continuous barrage of mortars and artillery rockets from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, we continue to abide by our commitments to transfer goods through the Kerem Shalom crossing to the people of Gaza in an efficient and secure manner.