Israel estimates Hamas behind rockets fired at Be'er Sheva
The defense establishment believes Hamas's soldiers on the ground carried out the pre-dawn launch contrary to the leadership's orders; meanwhile, residents of Israel's largest southern city say the 2 am rocket-alert sirens left them scrambling to find bomb shelters
The Iron Dome defense system intercepted two rockets fired by Palestinian militants at Israel’s biggest city in the south early Saturday morning. The pre-dawn surprise attack prompted the Israeli military to respond with a number of air strikes on militant targets belonging to Hamas.
"Israel is responsible for the consequences of the ongoing aggression against the resistance and the Palestinian people in Gaza,” said the terror group in a statement. “We will not allow Israel to continue choosing the time and place of every round of fighting."
Military officials estimate the launch was carried out by low-level Hamas militants on the ground, contrary to the position of the organization's leadership that wants to put the latest flare-up behind them.
The latest round of fighting created tension between Hamas and the second largest faction in the enclave - the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad. Hamas appeared to have stayed on the sidelines during the escalation, which began after Israel assassinated one of Islamic Jihad’s top commanders, Baha Abu al-Ata, deeming him an imminent threat.
In the meantime, Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva said at least eight people have been lightly hurt in the incident. Most were injured while making their way to a bomb shelter in a hurry in the middle of the night.
David Shuki, a Be’er Sheva resident, said the rocket alert sirens which sounded at 2am in the morning took the family by surprise. “It’s two in the morning, the grandchildren are asleep at our house, it was a complete surprise, but we are used to it,” he said. “I’m not sure there will be a ceasefire arrangement. Although here we aren’t in the Gaza border region, the south still gets hit.”
"We heard the sirens and I took the children down to the building's bomb shelter, but it was locked," said Uzi Abuelliz, another Be’er Sheva resident. “The children were shaking. We need to run about 200 meters to get to the bomb shelter. If it continues, we’ll run away from here.”
"I heard the sirens in my dream and woke up,” said 49-year-old Sarit Knafo. “I have no safe room, so I just ran down the stairs and then went back to bed. I am a very anxious woman, as far as I'm concerned, it wasn’t unexpected. They waited for a regular Friday night to fire at us.”