From November 4 – December 16, Hamas and affiliated Palestinian terrorist groups fired 190 rockets and 138 mortar shells into Israel.

 Violation of calm: Rockets strike Sderot, Ashkelon, western Negev

 

Sderot, Ashkelon and western Negev hit by barrage of rockets (Photos: Rafael Ben-Ari/Chameleons Eye)

More than 20 Kassam rockets were fired at southern Israel from Gaza on Wednesday (17 December). One rocket exploded in the parking lot of a large shopping center in Sderot where hundreds of people were shopping; three sustained light wounds.

 Violation of calm: Rockets strike Sderot, Ashkelon, western Negev

Kassam rocket exploded in the parking lot of a
large shopping center in Sderot  – Dec 17
(Photo: Rafael Ben-Ari/Chameleons Eye)

Four Kassam rockets were fired on Tuesday afternoon and evening, one exploding at a school in the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council near a field where a soccer practice was being held. One of the children attending the practice suffered shock and was transferred to Sderot for further treatment. Another rocket damaged a factory in Sderot.

In response to the continuous rocket fire from the Gaza Strip upon Israeli territory, IDF forces carried out four aerial strikes against terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip during the past 24 hours. The first strike, Wednesday (Dec. 17) morning, targeted a loaded rocket launcher in northern Gaza. The second target, that afternoon, was a Kassam rocket launching squad also in northern Gaza. This squad was prepped to launch a Kassam rocket at Israel.

Wednesday night, IAF fighter jets and helicopters struck two terrorist infrastructure sites in the Gaza Strip. The first site was an arsenal in the Jebalya refugee camp in northern Gaza. The second site was a rocket and explosives production facility in the city of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip. The targets were successfully struck and the aircraft returned to their bases unharmed.

* * *

At noon on Friday, November 28, 2008, an IDF force identified terrorists laying an explosive device near the Gaza Strip border security fence in the region of Abasan, near Khan Yunis. A firefight developed, resulting in the death of one terrorist and the wounding of four others. In rapid response, the Palestinian terrorist organizations launched a massive barrage of 17 mortar shells directed at the Nahal Oz area. One rocket was also fired, which landed in an open area. Hamas claimed responsibility for most of the fire along with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist organizations, such as the PRC. One of the mortar shells – a standard 120mm , apparently manufactured in Iran and smuggled into the Gaza Strip – hit an IDF base in the Nahal Oz region, wounding eight soldiers, one of them critically.

 Violation of calm: Rockets strike Sderot, Ashkelon, western Negev

Iranian-made 120 mm mortar shell with auxiliary motor (IICC)

This was not the first standard 120mm mortar shell attack against Israel. On February 24, 2008, such shells fell near Kibbutz Sa’ad in the western Negev , fired by Palestinian terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip. An examination of the remains showed that a shell manufactured by Iran (copy of mortar shells produced by the Israeli military industry in the 1970s and supplied to Iran). The rockets are equipped with auxiliary motors to increase their range from six to ten kilometers (less than four to more than six miles). On June 5, 2008, a 120mm mortar shell hit a factory in Kibbutz Nir Oz, killing Amnon Rosenberg, 51, from Kibbutz Nirim, and wounding four others, two of them seriously. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

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A Kassam rocket launched from the northern Gaza Strip hit an electric pole near a house in Sderot on Friday (Nov 14),  and Magen David Adom sources reported an 80-year-old woman was lightly injured from shrapnel and seven people suffered from shock as a result of the attack. A total of 14 rockets were fired on the western Negev on Friday. One rocket landed between houses in a kibbutz in Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council damaging a number of homes.

Four more rockets hit the Ashkelon area later Friday. One landed inside the city, another fell just outside, and two more landed in nearby open fields shortly after an alarm was sounded. Defense establishment officials said at least two of the rockets were Iranian-produced Grad missiles.Three people suffered from shock.

 Violation of calm: Rockets strike Sderot, Ashkelon, western Negev

Bodies of two Palestinian terrorists lay near a mortar launcher
after an Israeli pinpoint airstrike in Gaza, November 16, 2008 (Photo: Reuters)

 

PM Ehud Olmert to Cabinet (16 Nov 2008): "The weekend was marked by another round of violence between us and the terrorist regime that controls the Gaza Strip. Several months ago, the terrorist organizations committed themselves to understandings, the goal of which was to achieve calm. Recently, they have repeatedly tried to frustrate these understandings whether by digging tunnels designed to facilitate the perpetration of attacks and suicide actions against Israelis, by firing GRAD and Kassam rockets at civilian communities and by attempts to attack IDF forces near the border fence.

It is no secret that Israel did not wholeheartedly embrace the understandings that gave rise to the situation defined as calm but it honored them unilaterally. The responsibility for breaking the calm and creating a situation of recurrent continuing violence in the south lays entirely with Hamas and the other terrorist organizations active in the Gaza Strip. Let nobody come to the government of Israel and claim otherwise. We cannot tolerate the price that the terrorist organizations are trying to set for the prevailing situation there. It is our right to prevent further terrorism, threats and the breaking of the calm that is harming – first and foremost – the residents of the area.

We have acted, and we will continue to act, by every proper means in order to prevent a situation in which this ‘calm’ from working against the security of the residents of Israel. Following last week’s Cabinet discussion and assessments that I held this past Friday with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and senior defense establishment officials, I have instructed the latter to submit to me – as soon as possible – their proposals for formulating an action plan that will – if necessary – be submitted to the proper government officials in order to – inter alia – restore full quiet in the south. I have also instructed that the ongoing discussions between the defense and legal establishments be brought to a close forthwith, so that the Cabinet might be briefed on the options for action against Hamas’s terrorist regime and its military arm, without their being subject to restrictions that could harm our ability to employ the necessary strength to respond to these violations of the calm. 

I know that tempers are rising and various voices are being heard. My government has always acted, in such situations, with equanimity and sagacity in making its decisions and thus we will act now."

Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni: "The rules regarding Gaza are clear: If there is calm and the time is not utilized to prepare the next attack – there will be calm in return. But if Israeli citizens are attacked – Israel will respond forcefully in order to protect them. Israel is not interested in deterioration, but we won’t put up with recurring violations of the calm. The other side must understand that there are times when Israel must say ‘enough is enough’."

FM Livni to British For Secy Miliband: "While we are speaking here Israeli citizens are under attack by Hamas. Israel cannot just sit by and watch as its citizens are attacked and we expect the international community to support Israel when it defends its citizens.

The Israeli government has a responsibility to protect its citizens, and it is the world’s responsibility not to turn a blind eye and use all of the means and influence at its disposal to stop terrorist actions.
Hamas is taking advantage of the situation in Gaza to try and garner international support. The international community must make it clear that this is unacceptable. Just as Hamas is to blame for the attacks on Israel, so is Hamas is also responsible for the situation in Gaza and of the people living there. When Israel is attacked – Israel must respond."


Gaza crossings

In view of the continued rocket and mortar shells attacks during the week of November 9-16, 2008, all Gaza merchandise crossings used for the transfer of basic and humanitarian goods were closed by order of the Ministry of Defense due to security concerns. Nahal Oz, used for the import of fuel, was open on November 11-12 for the transfer of 2 million liters (almost 53,000 gallons) of fuel for the power station only.

The Erez crossing for humanitarian-medical cases remains open. During the week of November 16-21, 155 people (patients and their companions) crossed into Israel for medical treatment; during the week of November 23-29: 187 people.

On November 17, 33 trucks carrying 606 tons of milk powder and baby food, meat and dairy products, flour, yeast, oil and other foods, as well as medicines (7 tons), were allowed to transfer their goods at the Kerem Shalom crossing.

Between November 18-25, 14 rockets fell in Israeli territory and 10 mortar shells were fired at Israel population centers and IDF forces operating near the border security fence.

 Violation of calm: Rockets strike Sderot, Ashkelon, western Negev

Humanitarian aid trucks containing food and medicine
transferred into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing
on November 26 (Photo: IDF Spokesperson)

Despite the rocket attacks, Israel opened the Kerem Shalom crossing for the delivery of humanitarian aid and merchandise. Between November 20-26, a total of 70 trucks passed through, most of them UNRWA vehicles, with supplies of medicines and basic food commodities. On November 27, with 20 trucks waiting to enter Gaza, Hamas fire directed at the crossing forced its closing before all the trucks could pass through.

On November 24 Israel also delivered 440,000 liters (almost 106,000 gallons) of industrial fuel to operate the Gaza Strip power plant thorugh the Nahal Oz crossing. Another delivery of 437,000 liters of heavy duty diesel fuel for the power station and 130 tons cooking gas took place on November 26.

Following the November 28 mortar attack, the crossings were again closed. During the week of November 30 – December 6, all crossings remained closed with the exception of December 4, when the Karni conveyor and the Kerem Shalom crossing were open for the shipping of basic humanitarian needs; 440,000 liters of diesel fuel for the power station were delivered via the Nahal Oz crossing.

Despite continued fire (December 5-7), on December 9-10, 255 truck loads of humanitarian supplies of food and medical supplies as well as fuel (866,000 liters for the power station and diesel and gasoline for UNRWA transportation) as well as natural gas were delivered to Gaza via the crossings.