Palestinian terrorist organizations shot more than 80 Grad and Qassam missiles into a dozen southern Israeli towns and villages in a non-stop barrage Friday night and Saturday morning (March-9-10) in reprisal for the death of Zuheir al-Qaisi, head of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza. At least 8 Israeli civilians were injured by missiles and another ten Palestinians killed in ongoing Israeli air strikes against missile teams and terrorist targets. Fifteen missiles were intercepted by Iron Dome batteries.
The ”Committees” chief was wanted for his role in setting up the August 2011 Eilat Highway ambush which killed eight Israelis. He was known to be planning a repeat operation in the same part of the Israeli-Egyptian border as the first, which has kept this main artery in the southern half of Israel closed to civilian traffic for six months.
Muhamad Ahmad al-Hanani, who was among the jailed Palestinians Israel swapped for Gilead Shalit, was killed by the missile that struck the Al-Qaisi car in Gaza City Friday night.
Among the eight civilians injured in Israel were three Thai workers, one of whom was seriously hurt, two people in a vehicle pileup in Ashdod caused by a falling Grad and three people who tripped as they ran for shelter.
The missiles hit Beersheba, Ashkelon, Kiryat Malachi, Netivot, Ofakim, Gan Yavneh, Kfar Azza and the Eshkol and Shear Hanegev villages and kibbutzim. Lacking sufficient Iron Dome anti-missile batteries, the Israeli Air Force went into action to pinpoint the missile launchers, killing at least eight Palestinian, all members of the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad.
This group took responsibility for avenging the deaths of the “Committees” chief, announcing that the “truce was dead" and they would keep up their missile offensive against Israel. I
smail Radwan, spokesman of the Hamas faction which governs the Gaza Strip, said, “The Palestinian people has the right to self-defense.” This verbal support was apparently backed by supplying some of the missiles fired Friday night from Hamas stores.
The IDF command expects the Palestinian missile offensive to continue and has advised more than a million civilians within range of the Gaza Strip to stay close to shelters. On orders from the army, the public Purim festival events ready to take place in a dozen southern towns Saturday were cancelled, especially the masked parades of children and adults in fancy costume.
The Eilat Highway 12, which was to have reopened for traffic after six months, remains closed to traffic in case of further terrorist attacks from neighboring Egyptian Sinai.