Gaza-based terror cells fire 28 mortar shells on southern Israel

Mortar Shell Fired from Gaza, Photo, Israel Police

JERUSALEM, Israel – Islamic terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired at least 28 mortars at southern Israel Tuesday morning as parents were preparing to send their children off to school.

It was the largest barrage since Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s military incursion into the Gaza Strip, in the summer of 2014.

By early afternoon, Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip reported airstrikes on a Hamas Naval base following early strikes on Khan Younis and Islamic Jihad positions in Gaza City. By later afternoon, the IDF confirmed 35 strikes on the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza, both Hamas and Islamic Jihad facilities. The IDF also destroyed an attack tunnel near the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

By mid-afternoon, air sirens were sounding again as terrorists resumed rocket fire. Residents were again told to stay in close proximity to shelters.  Three Israelis were reported injured, though the injuries were not life threatening.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman began consultations with security personnel, while politicians spanning the political spectrum condemned the attacks.

“Israel views the attacks on it and on its communities by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from the Gaza Strip with great severity,” Netanyahu said at a conference in the Galilee. “The IDF will retaliate with great force to these attacks. Israel will make anyone trying to harm it pay a heavy price, and we view Hamas as responsible for preventing such attacks against us.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman scheduled meetings with IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and other senior security officials.

Air raid sirens began blaring around 7:00 am, sending families scurrying to their bomb shelters, as the Iron Dome anti-missile batteries intercepted and destroyed most of the incoming projectiles.

One of the shells exploded in a kindergarten yard an hour before children were slated to arrive.

About an hour later, a second launch set off warning sirens, followed by a third attack an hour after that, but none of the shells caused property damage or personal injury.

Two residents of Gaza-perimeter communities shared their experiences.

Avda Klein, a resident of Kibbutz Kfar Aza, apologized for her appearance, saying she’d hardly slept.

“Also, apologizing for the look. Between the artillery and the planes and gunfire last night all night long to the color red alerts this morning, I maybe had two hours of sleep.”

Kibbutz Nirim resident Adele Raemer described the morning as “really scary.”

“My daughter had the baby in the carriage and had to try and figure out a way to get her baby and the three-year-old into the safe room at the same time, while she hears the red alerts going off, while she hears the explosions in the background. It’s been a really scary morning.”

A short time later, Israeli officials told residents they could leave the shelters and resume their daily activity.

The evening before, machine gun fire from Gaza damaged several homes and a vehicle in the town of Sderot, but no one was injured. It was the second time within a month that terrorists in the Gaza Strip opened fire on southern Israel.

The early morning shelling Tuesday comes on the heels of the “Great March of Return,” which some analysts say fell short of Hamas’ stated goal to destroy the security fence and infiltrate Israel.

Meanwhile, Israel Police facilitated the visit of more than a quarter million Arab Muslims to Jerusalem’s Old City during the second weekend of the Islamic month of Ramadan.

On Friday, an estimated 165,000 people participated in Friday’s Muslim prayers on the Temple Mount and thousands more visited over the weekend.

Police later detained six people from Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem after they attempted to incite the thousands of worshippers on the Temple Mount. Police confiscated Hamas flags and other materials. The suspects, who range in age from 26 to 41, will appear in court.

This article originally appeared on CBN News, May 29, 2018, and reposted with permission.