Israel Continues Humanitarian Aid to Gaza, Despite Rocket Attacks
Throughout the six month ceasefire between Israel and Iran-backed Hamas, Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel, from various places in Gaza. Although Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had asked Hamas not to end the ceasefire, but to extend it, Hamas ended it on Friday (Dec. 19).
During the “ceasefire,” terrorists in Gaza continued to fire 325 rockets into Israel. Since ending the ceasefire 10 days ago, they fired more than 200 missiles, rockets and mortars.
Hamas may have been emboldened by the thought of using their upgraded arsenal of rockets, which can travel much further than those used previously.
Attacks over the weekend killed a 30-year-old resident of the southern Negev city of Netivot and wounded four others. Three Israelis were killed in separate rocket attacks on Israeli cities today.
In one attack in Ashkelon, a 27-year-old Israeli-Arab construction worker was killed by a Grad rocket fired from Gaza and 16 others were wounded. A number of the other workers were Israeli Arabs. Five of the injured are in serious condition. [ Haaretz ]
In the city of Ashdod, a woman was killed at a bus stop and four others were wounded, one seriously. The dead woman had run into a bus station seeking shelter after a rocket warning siren sounded; she died of shrapnel wounds. It is the first time Ashdod has been hit by missiles fired from Gaza.
The third attack killed an Israeli in the western Negev, with seven others wounded. [ ynetnews ]
Late on Monday, rockets struck the Israeli cities of Ofakim and Yavneh. Yavneh, 22 miles (35 km) from Gaza, is the northernmost Israeli city ever hit by Gaza rockets.
Nir Marciano, who lives across the road from where the rocket struck in Ashkelon said, “I heard a small blast followed by a bigger one, which rocked the house and the windows. It was simply terrifying. The blast was so strong it blew me inside.” [ Ynetnews ]
The stepping-up of attacks by Hamas prompted Israel to begin “Operation Cast Lead” Saturday. More than 150 rockets and mortar shells have been fired at Israel since then, at least 40 of them today.
The IDF say they are using targeted air strikes on Hamas militants and installations in Gaza in an effort to stop the terrorists’ more than three years of almost daily attacks on Israel.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Hamas is responsible for the current situation in Gaza and said he had asked Hamas to extend the ceasefire.
In a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Gheit, Abbas said “I say in all honesty, we made contact with leaders of the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. We spoke with them in all honesty and directly, and after that we spoke with them indirectly, through more than one Arab and non-Arab side… We spoke with them on the telephone and we said to them: We ask of you, don’t stop the ceasefire, the ceasefire must continue and not stop, in order to avoid what has happened, and if only we had avoided it.”
On Sunday, the IDF targeted 40 weapons smuggling tunnels built by terrorist groups in Gaza. They also struck two mosques that were being used as storage depots for weapons, ammunition and explosives. Following the air strikes, there were secondary explosions indicating that large quantities of the explosives and ammunition had been hit.
Dore Gold, Israel’s former ambassador to the UN told Gaza residents, “We are not your enemies and we are not fighting against you. This terrorist organization has brought disaster to two peoples. Israel is not fighting the Palestinian people but the Hamas terrorist organization that has taken it upon itself to act against the residents of Israel.”
Despite the ongoing attacks, 63 truckloads of humanitarian goods were transferred from Israel to Gaza yesterday, plus 120 truckloads today through the Kerem Shalom and Karni crossings. On Sunday, Israel transported 160 tons of food and medicine into Gaza. The IDF provided the aid in coordination with the UN, UNSCO, UNRWA, Red Cross and WHO. On Friday, Israel transferred more than 90 truckloads of vital goods to Gaza residents.