JERUSALEM — The Israeli army on Thursday morning launched a pre-emptive strike on Palestinian terrorists as they planted an explosive along Gaza’s border with Israel – the latest attempt by terrorists to harm Israelis. The operation killed three of the perpetrators. Overnight, the army killed three other terrorists in Gaza as they were about to launch rockets at Israel.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, the same terrorist cell involved in planning the rocket attacks took part in other rocket launches at Israel. The terror groups based in Gaza all profess an ideology which commits them to destroying Israel.
The two attempted attacks on Israel occurred within 12 hours of each other. Despite an unofficial ceasefire with Israel, terrorist groups in Hamas-controlled Gaza have been firing rockets at Israel almost daily. As of Thursday, the total number of rockets, mortars and missiles launched at Israel since Jan. 1 stood at 552, according to a daily count maintained by The Israel Project. That total compares to 653 for all of 2011. Many of the rockets have been aimed at major cities like Ashdod and Beersheba, both with populations of over 200,000.
Rather than condemning the attempted violence, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who controls the West Bank accused Israel of stepping up tensions between the two sides.
Meanwhile, Hamas security forces on Wednesday reportedly detained 20 of their own members. Hamas, though implacably committed to the long-term goal of eradicating Israel, has adopted a short-term policy of avoiding major confrontations. This may be because they do not want to risk a repeat of Israel’s 2008/2009 Cast Lead operation which destroyed much of their infrastructure or it could be because Iran wants Hamas to retain its military capabilities for use at a later date.
Hamas has smuggled thousands of weapons through tunnels from the Sinai and has been steadily increasing the reach and sophistication of its arsenal. It now has missiles capable of hitting Tel Aviv.
In a statement, the Israeli army said: “The IDF will not tolerate any attempt by terrorist groups to target Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers, and will continue to operate against those who use terror against the State of Israel. The Hamas terror organization is solely responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip.”