Terror groups operating from Gaza continued to fire rockets at southern Israel Monday morning, prompting further engagement of the IDF’s Iron Dome missile-defense batteries, while the Israeli Air Force jets launched attacks on terrorist targets, marking the fourth day of fighting.
The IDF reports more than 180 rockets have been fired from Gaza aimed at civilians in southern Israel since fighting began on Friday.
Residents of Beersheba and Ashdod had seconds to seek cover after “Red Color” alerts were broadcast, indicating incoming rockets. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the morning salvo, reports Israel’s Ynet News.
As one million Israelis continue to be under threat of rocket attacks from Gaza, The Blaze has prepared this tip sheet to help sort some of the facts:
How did it begin?
Some news organizations are reporting the present round of fighting began when Israeli forces killed a terrorist leader in Gaza. But that’s not exactly how it began. It really began when Israeli intelligence obtained information that a terrorist cell was planning a major attack on Israelis via Egypt in the coming days, as occurred last August, when eight Israelis were killed.
According to the IDF Spokesman, the real-time intelligence prompted its decision to launch an airstrike at a car in which the Popular Resistance Committees’ (PRC) head in Gaza, Zuheir al-Qaisi was riding, killing him along with another operative on Friday. This was the same group behind the August terrorist attacks. According to the IDF, Qaisi was involved in firing rockets at Israeli civilians and transferring funds from Hezbollah to terror groups in Gaza.
Is Hamas involved?
During the previous escalations of violence in recent years, Hamas has played a key role; however, this time, the group which the U.S. and European Union define as a terror group appears to be sitting on the sidelines. Channel 2 News’ venerated Arab Affairs Analyst Ehud Ya’ari notes this is the first round of fighting between Gaza’s Palestinian terror groups and the IDF in which Hamas has held its guns. Publicly, Israeli officials hold Hamas responsible as the group in control of Gaza; however, the IDF has noticeably been focused on the infrastructure and targets of other terror groups. The Popular Resistance Committees and Islamic Jihad appear to be those firing rockets at Israeli communities outside Gaza and are therefore in the crosshairs of IAF jets.
However, the IDF offered this warning to Hamas lest it decide to engage its fighters:
“Hamas uses other terror organizations to carry out terror attacks against the State of Israel and will bear the consequences of these actions in any future operation embarked upon by the IDF in order to eliminate the terror threat and restore the relative calm to the area.”
What is the IDF targeting?
The IDF reports it is targeting terrorist facilities as well as squads preparing to fire rockets. The IDF posted this nosecone video on YouTube of a weapons cache it destroyed in northern Gaza. Note the secondary and tertiary explosions, indicating the storage of explosives. Terror groups often position weapons storage facilities in residential areas, using civilians as human shields as recently reported by the IDF and a Palestinian human rights activist.
The pro-Israel blogger Challah Hu Akbar combed through Israeli and Palestinian websites in both English and Arabic and discovered that the vast majority of those killed by Israel were bona fide members of the PRC or Islamic Jihad. He included this montage of “martyrs” compiled by Islamic Jihad.
Is there an Iran connection?
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday partially blamed Iran for the weekend rocket attacks, while Iran’s Foreign Ministry called Israel's air strikes "savage crimes" against "the innocent and defenseless Palestinian people."
Speaking to Likud ministers Sunday night, Netanyahu said, “The fire from Gaza is an Iranian problem, not a Palestinian problem.” Anti-terror officials report Iran funds Islamic Jihad, which is one of the groups launching rocket attacks.
Arutz 7 quotes IDF spokesman Brigadier-General Yoav Mordechai:
“Islamic Jihad continues to act as the long arm of Iran, which finances, supports, and encourages it even today with weapons and money that come straight from Tehran.”
How effective has the Iron Dome system been?
Israeli military officials are attributing a 90 percent success rate to the Iron Dome anti-missile system in intercepting incoming rockets. However, no single defense system can provide full coverage or a complete solution. Upon visiting an Iron Dome battery Sunday, Netanyahu said:
“We'll bolster the Iron Dome (anti-rocket) system, which is performing very well but does not provide hermetic protection…I believe our combination of offensive and defensive capabilities, coupled with our (civilians') fortitude, is a winning combination."
Israel has decided to deploy a fourth Iron Dome battery in the coming weeks, says Israel Air Force Col. Tzvika Haimovitch, because the current three-battery deployment is “being stretched to the max.” The Jerusalem Post quotes defense officials who say Israel needs at least
13 batteries to effectively protect itself against rockets fired from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.
Engineers are examining if a technical malfunction occurred on Sunday, after two rockets were not intercepted and fell on Beersheba, one of which hit a school that was closed due to the violence.
The Jerusalem Post provides more statistics on the Iron Dome:
The Iron Dome is designed to defend against rockets at a range of 4-70 kilometers. Each battery consists of a mini multi-mission radar manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries and three launchers, each equipped with 20 interceptors called Tamirs.
The radar enables Iron Dome operators to predict the impact site of the enemy rocket and if it is slated to hit an open area, to refrain from intercepting it.
This protection comes with a steep price tag: every Iron Dome interceptor costs about $50,000, with two usually being fired toward each incoming rocket.
How are civilians’ living under rocket fire being impacted?
Besides the obvious potential danger associated with incoming bombs, the one million Israelis within range of the terror groups’ rockets are being advised to remain near bomb shelters, safe rooms or other types of cover and not to take unnecessary risks.
Many spent the past three nights in shelters, schools are closed and large gatherings have been canceled, per Home Front Command directives barring gatherings of over 500 people within about 20 miles of Gaza. Channel 2 News profiled two couples who decided to go ahead with their weddings Sunday night, and IDF Radio interviewed a boy celebrating what would likely be a memorable Bar Mitzvah under rocket threat.
To help keep kids distracted, clowns, puppeteers and dancers traveled to southern Israel to provide entertainment amid the sirens and rocket attacks, sponsored by Israel’s Ministry of Culture and Sport as well as private groups like the World Zionist Organization (WZO) and Tarbut L’Israel (Culture for Israel).