Gazan rockets – frequent, random, ineffectual; Israeli airstrikes – targeted, deadly
There are four reports here: Ha’aretz, Ma’an, Ma’an, Ha’aretz arranged in chronological order. Between them they give an account of mortar bombs being fired into Israel on the morning of Friday 9th (attributed to/claimed by no-one so far), a strike by the Israeli Air Force killing Zuhir al-Qaisi, secretary-general of the Popular Resistance Committees and Mahmoud Hanani, a barrage of rockets from Gaza into Israel on Friday afternoon, a strike by the IAF killing three ‘jihadist militants’.
Seven ‘jihadists’ were dead by Saturday morning drawing a large crowd to their funeral in Gaza city. More rocket and drone attacks were exchanged on Saturday afternoon, leaving a total of 14 Palestinians and 0 Israelis dead by Saturday afternoon. CNN and AP reports (not included) gave the number of peope killed in Gaza as 15 by Saturday evening.
More than 20 rockets fired into southern Israel; eight people wounded, one seriously; Iron Dome intercepts several rockets fired at Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Be’er Sheva; Israel launches Gaza strikes and kills three Islamic Jihad militants.
By Yanir Yagna, Gili Cohen and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz
Eight people were wounded Friday as Gaza militants fired more than 20 rockets into southern Israel.
The barrage of rockets began Friday afternoon after the Israel Air Force launched a strike in Gaza and killed the leader of the Popular Resistance Committees, who was believed to be planning a large terror attack on Israel’s southern border.
One person was seriously wounded by a mortar shell that exploded in the Eshkol Regional Council, and two more were moderately and lightly hurt. The three were evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva.
Two more people were wounded in a car accident caused after a Grad rocket fell near the southern Israeli city of Ashdod. Three more Israelis were lightly wounded when they fell trying to reach bomb shelters when the alarm sounded.
Three Grad rockets were fired toward the southern Israeli city of Ashdod – two were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system, and one exploded in an open area near the city. There were no casualties but slight damage was done to a house.
Moreover, two rockets were fired at Be’er Sheva, one exploded in an open area and the other was intercepted by Iron Dome. The anti-missile system also successfully intercepted two rockets that were fired toward Ashkelon.
Amid the rocket fire, IDF forces launched two more strikes on Gaza targets, killing three Islamic Jihad militants who were preparing to fire rockets into Israel.
Israeli cities near the Gaza border were put on high alert on Friday evening, and the residents have been asked to stay close to bomb shelters. Highway 12, which runs along the Israel-Egypt border, was closed to traffic, and will remain closed on Saturday as well.
The hit on the secretary-general of the Popular Resistance Committees, Zuhir al-Qaisi, came after the IDF learned that he had been planning a terror attack on Israel’s Highway 12, which runs along the Egypt-Israel border, and was the site of a deadly terror attack in August 2011, in which eight Israelis were killed.
According to the IDF Spokesperson, al-Qaisi was one of the organizers of the August attack.
Al-Qaisi was reportedly in his car in northern Gaza, along with his collaborator Mahmoud Hanani, when IDF forces fired two missiles at the vehicle and killed the two.
Al-Qaisi, the IDF Spokesman said, was recently organizing a large, coordinated terror attack to be carried out on Israel’s border with Gaza. Hanani, a resident of Nablus, and one of the prisoners freed as part of the deal to release Gilad Shalit, and was expelled to the Gaza Strip.
The Popular Resistance Committees responded Friday to the attack, and vowed to avenge al-Qaisi’s death in a way that would “shake the Zionist enemy.”
Hamas’ spokesman in Gaza said in response to the attack that the Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves.
Earlier Friday, prior to the IDF attack, two mortar bombs were fired into Israeli territory.
IDF officials, speaking with Army Radio following the mortar attack launched by Gaza militates, called the volley “unprovoked” and indicated that it was not in response to any army operations in the costal enclave.
Gaza buries 12 men
GAZA CITY – Crowds in Gaza City joined the funeral processions of seven Islamic Jihad fighters who were killed by Israeli forces Friday and Saturday morning.
Funeral of Muatasim Hajjaj, Ahmad Hajjaj, Fayiq Saad, Shadi Sayqali, Hazim Qureiqi, Ubeid Gharably and Muhammad Hararah set out from Shifa hospital in Gaza City, then to Al-Umari Mosque.
After prayers, the bodies were carried to their families for a final farewell. However, families will have to look at covered bodies because most victims were torn to pieces.
Mourners chanted slogans calling on resistance fighters to retaliate, while gunshots were fired into the air.
The Popular Resistance Committees announced that the funeral of the group’s secretary-general sheikh Zuheir Qaisi would set out from Al-Awda Mosque in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile Mahmoud Hanani, originally from Nablus, will be buried after midday prayer. The funeral will set out from the Shura Mosque in Tal al-Zaatar neighborhood in the northern Gaza Strip.
Funerals for Mahmoud Najim and Muhammad Al-Maghari will be held in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. Muhammad Al-Ghamry will be buried in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.
New airstrike kills Palestinian in southern Gaza
GAZA CITY — Medics say an airstrike Saturday killed one man and critically injured another in the southern Gaza Strip, raising to 13 the number of Palestinians killed since Israel assassinated a military leader 24 hours earlier.
The latest attack east of Khan Younis came from a drone aircraft which fired on a motorcycle,
Israeli warplanes continued to attack the Gaza Strip on Saturday killing one man and critically injuring another east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.
Spokesman of the higher committee of ambulance and emergency in the Gaza Strip Adham Abu Salmiya said an Israeli drone fired a missile at a motorcycle in Khan Younis killing one and critically injuring another. Death toll in the last 48 hours rose to 13.
The body of the dead man was evacuated to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, while the injured victim was taken to the European Hospital. Neither was identified.
An Israeli airstrike targeting motorcycle in the southern Gaza Strip killed two people, a medical official said Saturday.
The new attack brings to 14 the number of Palestinians killed in the escalation that began when Israel assassinated a military leader Friday.
An Israeli military spokeswoman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Earlier, the military said about 90 rockets had been fired at Israel at the weekend, injuring eight people including one seriously in southern Israel.
Several hours of quiet broken by three rockets that exploded in southern Israel; Iron Dome has intercepted 25 of 27 rockets that it has targeted since Friday.
By Yanir Yagna, Gili Cohen and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz
After several hours of quiet on Saturday morning, three rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel in the early afternoon, continuing the escalation of violence that began on Friday.
One of the rockets exploded in an open area near Be’er Sheva. Another fell in the Ramat Eshkol Regional Council and a third in the Ashkelon Beach region. None caused injuries or damage.
Also on Saturday, Palestinians said that an Israeli air strike killed two people riding on a motorcycle in Gaza’s Khan Younis.
Since Friday, a total of more than 60 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza. During the escalation, the Iron Dome system has intercepted 25 of 27 rockets that it has targeted. The Iron Dome is designed to only intercept rockets that are identified as heading toward populated areas.
On Friday, eight people in Israel were wounded by rocket fire and some damage was reported.
On Friday afternoon, the Israel Air Force launched a strike in Gaza and killed the leader of the Popular Resistance Committees, Zuhir al-Qaisi, who was believed to be planning a large terror attack on Israel’s southern border.
Earlier Friday, prior to the IAF’s targeting of al-Qaisi, two mortars were fired into Israel from Gaza.
On Friday night, IAF aircraft struck six targets in Gaza: two weapons manufacturing sites and two rocket launching sites in northern Gaza, a weapons manufacturing site in central Gaza, and a terror activity center in southern Gaza.
Also overnight, the IAF targeted a terrorist in central Gaza and six terrorist cells in northern and central Gaza as they prepared to launch projectiles at Israel, the IDF said.
In Gaza, 14 Palestinians have reportedly been killed since Friday in IAF strikes. Most of the dead were Islamic Jihad operatives.