Violent Weekend Along Israel, Gaza Border
The weekend brought new violence along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip for the 31st consecutive time, as some 16,000 Gazans answered the call to join this week’s melee along the security fence that divides the two entities. Four Palestinians, all reported to have been in their ‘20s, were shot dead by soldiers preventing infiltrations into Israeli territory where they are expected by Gaza’s Hamas rulers to attack Jewish targets. The tactic of setting tens of tires on fire to produce choking smoke was addressed by Kibbutz Kerem Shalom with the placement of large fans to blow the toxic smoke back into Gaza airspace. The escalation continued with the launch of some 39 rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel followed by Israeli fighter jets flying at least eight missions against Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza. While it was believed that Islamic Jihad was the group that actually fired the rockets, it is Israeli policy to hold Hamas, as rulers of the enclave, responsible for any and all violence emanating from there. Hence, retaliatory strikes are typically against Hamas targets. Nevertheless, after a score of rockets were launched, this time the Israeli military notably struck at Islamic Jihad rather than Hamas targets, prompting belief that Israel was having a modicum of success in its negotiations with Hamas through Egyptian intermediaries. On Saturday, Islamic Jihad announced it had reached an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel. The Iron Dome anti-missile system was busy, intercepting 17 of the 39 rockets fired. The system only acts against incoming weapons its computer determines would land on hard targets.