Attack Comes a Day after Arab League OKs Direct Peace Talks
Terrorists in Gaza fired a Grad rocket into the Israeli town of Ashkelon Friday morning (July 30), hitting a residential area and sending several people into shock as well as damaging nearby cars and an apartment complex. A few hours later, terrorists launched two mortars that hit the western Negev. The explosions didn’t cause injuries.
Ashkelon, a port city of 125,000 people along the southernmost portion of the Mediterranean, is located seven miles (12 km) from Gaza and has been the site of numerous past Gaza rocket and missile attacks.
“Israel takes the firing on Ashkelon very seriously,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Friday.
The Ashkelon attack occurred a day after the Arab League met in Cairo and approved Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to engage in direct peace talks with Israel. Hamas said the League’s decision was a “political sin.”
Last weekend, terrorists in Gaza fired four Qassam rockets and two mortar shells that hit the western Negev but didn’t cause any injuries.
Iran-backed Hamas’s Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades took credit for the Ashkelon attack. Hamas has been in full control of Gaza since launching a bloody coup against the Palestinian Authority’s rival Fatah group in June 2007.
Terrorists in Hamas-controlled Gaza have fired 108 rockets, mortars and missiles from Gaza into Israel since Israel ended its defensive operation from December 2008-Jan. 9 to root out rocket launchers and weapons storage facilities Gaza.
That marks a significant decrease from the 7,000 rockets, mortars and missiles fired from Gaza since Israel withdrew all of its citizens and forces from the area in August 2005. Israel carried out the 2005 operation in hopes of paving the way for an independent Palestinian state.
Gaza by the Numbers
In June 2007, the Iran-backed terrorist organization Hamas carried out a violent coup in the Gaza Strip and overthrew the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah party. Since then the group has remained in control of the territory and refused to reconcile with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party or allow new elections to take place.
Hamas also has fired thousands of rockets, missiles and mortars at Israeli civilians from Gaza, turning it into a launching pad for attacks against Israel after Israel uprooted its communities and left all of Gaza in 2005 in hopes of paving the way for an independent Palestinian state. Hamas has smuggled in hundreds of tons of weaponry into the territory. Additionally, Hamas continues to refuse to recognize Israel, renounce violence and return Gilad Shalit, the Israeli-French soldier whom Hamas abducted from Israel in an unprovoked attack in June 2006.
Israel has placed a naval blockade on Gaza to prevent large-scale weapons smuggling and also restricted the entry into Gaza of certain goods, particularly those Hamas has used in the past to build its terrorist infrastructure . On June 20, the Israeli government eased certain restrictions to allow in more civilian goods, except those that may have dual military use.
5,000: Rockets built or smuggled into the Gaza Strip by Iran-backed Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad since Jan. 18, 2009, which marked the end of Israel’s defensive Operation Cast Lead to stop ongoing rocket attacks 37 mi (60km): Range of Hamas rockets in Gaza acquired after Operation Cast Lead 108: Rockets and mortars fired from Gaza into Israel from January -June 2010 7,000+: Rockets and mortars fired from Gaza since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 10,000+: Rockets and mortars fired from Gaza 2001-2010 1: Israeli left in Gaza – Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit. He was kidnapped by Hamas from Israel on June 25, 2006 1,000+: People in Israel injured from rockets and mortars fired from Gaza since 2001 28: People killed by Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks since 2001 1: Person killed in Israel by a rocket fired by Palestinian terrorist in Gaza on March 18, 2010 9: Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks conducted by Palestinian terrorist groups along the Gaza-Israel border in 2010 34: Incidents of sniper attacks and small arms fire conducted by Palestinian terrorist groups along the Gaza-Israel border in 2010 $20 million – $30 million: Funding Iran provides annually to Hamas. Iran gave another $50 million following Hamas’s victory in the 2006 Palestinian elections
Humanitarian Aid Delivered to Gaza
329,000: Tons of humanitarian goods and civilian supplies delivered deliveredinto Gaza in 2010 as of June 26 9,955: Residents of Gaza who entered Israel for medical or other humanitarian reasons in 2010, as of June 26 95: Trucks of carnations and strawberries exported from Gaza through Israel in 2010, as of June 26 23: Tons of iron delivered into Gaza in the first quarter of 2010 25: Tons of cement delivered into Gaza in the first quarter of 2010 103: Truckloads of glass, wood, and aluminum delivered in May 2010 84: Truckloads of glass, wood, and aluminum delivered in April 2010 46: Electricity generators delivered into Gaza in April 2010 800,000: Tons of humanitarian goods and civilian supplies delivered into Gaza in 2009 36 million: Gallons (139 million liters) of fuel delivered to Gaza since January 2009 105 million: Liters of fuel delivered to Gaza’s power plant in 2009 10,544: Patients and their companions given permission to leave Gaza in 2009 for medical treatment in Israel 41: Trucks of equipment delivered for the maintenance of Gaza’s electricity grid in 2009. Israel continues to provide 60 percentof Gaza’s electricity 95: Truckloads of equipment for water infrastructure and sewage systems delivered to Gaza in 2009 3,720: Tons of chloride for water purification delivered in 2009 45: Truckloads of communication equipment sent to Gaza after the Palestinian Authority requested it in 2009 21,200: Foreign staff members of international organizations as well as more than 400 diplomatic delegations that entered Gaza in 2009 867,000 gallons (3.2 million liters): Fuel and diesel delivered into Gaza for use by UNRWA, in addition to special equipment for summer camps
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By The Israel Project