During the predawn hours Saturday morning, air raid sirens sounded in the town of Beersheva and the surrounding area. The ceasefire announced less than 48 hours earlier was broken. Two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward the “capital of the Negev.” Both were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome.
This is far from the first time that the terrorists who rule Gaza have broken a ceasefire. Still, it came as a complete surprise to many residents of Beersheva, where public bomb shelters had already been closed. Needless to say, the sudden rocket attack caused a lot of stress and anxiety.
#BREAKING Two rockets were fired from #Gaza to the city of Beer Sheva. It is a big breach of the ceasefire, probably by some factions in the Islamic Jihad who are not happy with the agreement pic.twitter.com/LU2Dh4Dc5K
— Guy Elster (@guyelster) November 16, 2019
Israel’s official reaction was not long in combing. The Israel Air Force (IAF) for the first time in this current round of fighting targeted Hamas targets, rather than limiting itself to those of Islamic Jihad, as it had for days prior. Israel determined that the military wing of Hamas was responsible for the rocket fire, and even if it wasn’t, the group as a whole, as the rulers of Gaza, must be held accountable for violence emanating from the coastal enclave.
There’s the very real possibility that elements within Hamas launched the two weekend rockets in order to demonstrate that the group remains dedicated to the fight against Israel, even if it is often at odds with Islamic Jihad on other issues. Days earlier, senior Hamas officials had been ejected from the mourning tent of Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu al-Ata, killed earlier in the week by the IAF. Islamic Jihad faithful accusing Hamas of having abandoned the anti-Israel jihad.
Violating a ceasefire by launching an attack on Beersheva was a clear message that Hamas intends to maintain its leadership role in the campaign to terrorize and eventually destroy Israel.
And it seems to have worked. Later on Saturday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh himself paid a visit to al-Ata’s mourning tent and was not turned away.
“We will not abandon the blood of our martyrs,” Haniyeh told the mourners, insisting that Hamas and Islamic Jihad remain steadfast partners and that “accounts with the enemy have not yet been settled.”