The order to fire Qassam rockets at Israeli communities in recent days came from the Islamic Jihad’s headquarters in Syria, security officials say.
Following the killing of the group’s West Bank terror leader Louie Sa’adi earlier this week, Jihad leaders in Syria exerted heavy pressure on terrorists to respond by directing mortar and rocket fire at Israel, at any cost.
This time around, Syrian officials cannot pretend they had no idea what was happening right under their noses, because Israel relayed messages to Damascus, through various sources, informing the Syrians about the rocket attacks about to follow.
Some officials in Israel thought Syria, which is already facing intense international scrutiny, might push the Islamic Jihad to curb its attacks, but Syrian officials did not act.
Meanwhile, Israel also informed the Palestinian Authority hours before the Qassam strikes that terrorists are planning to launch rocket attacks. PA officials were asked to take steps in a bid to prevent the fire, but Palestinian security officials did not even pretend to be acting on the information.
Gaza’s Karni and Erez crossings were reopened Wednesday morning following a situation assessment by the IDF. The crossings were closed following the Qassam rocket attacks.
Another rocket Tuesday night
Despite the IDF’s work to prevent rocket attacks, a Qassam rocket was fired close to midnight (Israel time) at Sderot. No injuries have been reported.
On the eve of Simchat Torah (Monday night), at least five Qassam rockets were fired at the city.
Sderot’s level of alert has been raised due to fears that Palestinian organizations would try to take revenge for the killing of Islamic Jihad commander Louie Sa’adi.
Moshe Ben Sheetrit, a 29 year-old resident of the city, told Ynet: “The Red Dawn (alert system) siren was heard. Usually, there are 20 seconds to run to a protected structure, but before I got there, I heard a boom; it was less than 20 seconds. The children are asleep, thank God.”
In response to Monday night’s rocket salvo, the IAF hit targets in northern Gaza, and IDF forces fired artillery shells at Qassam rocket launching pads. An IAF combat helicopter also struck two buildings in Gaza.
Palestinian doctors said that a Palestinian woman and two of her daughters were injured by shrapnel from the air strike in southern Gaza.
On Tuesday Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal told Ynet that the IDF’s “soft” response to Monday’s barrage of Qassam rockets at Sderot encourages the Palestinians to continue attacking us, on Tuesday.
'People are angry'
“The IDF should not respond to their (rocket-launchers) attacks, but rather immobilized them completely,” Moyal said.
Sderot resident Gili Bohadana said, “It’s scary, there’s no other way to describe the lousy feeling you get when you know a Qassam rocket may be served as your main dish at the family dinner.
“People are angry, and I can understand them,” he said.
“My home is located about one kilometer (1.6 miles) from Beit Hanun and Beit Lahia (Gaza). On a clear day you can see Fatma hanging up the laundry while her son Mahmoud plays soccer in the street – they should be afraid; they should be in hiding; they should not be able to sleep at night. Better them than us. We are fed up. We simply want to live.”
A senior IDF officer told Ynet, “We expected the Palestinian Authority to prevent the Qassam fire, but as it has not done so, we responded harshly after the initial barrage. We will continue to be on alert and prepared to respond at any moment."
Hanan Greenberg, Ali Waked and Tova Dadon contributed to the report