This round of the undeclared Iranian-Israeli war – the Jihad missile offensive – winds down
The Israeli Air force struck 7 terrorist targets in southern Gaza Thursday, March 13, after a second round of rockets were fired at Ashkelon and Ashdod. The Jihad Islami then reported a ceasefire was negotiated through Egypt. This was not confirmed by Israel. Earlier, Israel’s security cabinet met to determine how the IDF should handle Jihad Islami’s massive assault of 70 missiles against Israel Wednesday, executed on orders from its boss, Al Qods Brigades chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani, as payback for Israel's seizure of an Iranian missile ship last week.
Military sources reported that the barrage had consisted of up to 100 rockets fired, but one-third fell short and exploded inside the Gaza Strip. Israel hit back overnight Wednesday with 29 air strikes against its positions.
debkafile reported earlier:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned that Jihad and Hamas too, as overlords of the Gaza Strip, would rue the day they harmed Israel. This placed the military initiative in the hands of Jihad Islami and its puppet master, Gen.Soleimani.
So far, Israel and Iran have kept their undeclared war within certain limits.
But the capture of the Iranian missile ship led Iran’s Palestinian proxy, Jihad Islami, end-users of its arms cargo, to even the score. On Tuesday, three Jihad operatives fired mortars from southern Gaza at an Israeli military patrol. They were shot dead as they fled the scene. Jihad had fabricated the pretext for letting loose a continuous volley of Qassam and Grad missiles across a broad front that sent more than half a million Israeli civilians running for shelter.
Iron Dome batteries intercepted no more than three, although property was damaged in downtown Sderot. The day was overcast and rainy, which the Palestinian terrorists judged would obviate Israeli Air Force retaliation. But that night, the Israeli air force pounded 29 Jihad positions up and down the Gaza Strip.
By then, they had emptied out and so no one was hurt. Neither were there casualties from the Palestinian rocket offensive, the most extensive since the Israel’s Pillar of Defense Gaza operation in 2011.
This was because the Palestinians in their first round aimed for the shock effect of surprise rather than precise targeting and so most of the rockets landed outside residential areas. Jihad possesses more accurate weapons with far longer ranges than those used Wednesday, but held them back until Thursday.
Israel and Iran are conducting an unusual kind of war: Israel has struck Iranian and allied military targets in Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the Red Sea. Tehran has hit back by activating allied Palestinian and Lebanese pro-Hizballah terrorist organizations against Israel. Israeli reprisals were confined to air strikes on empty terrorist buildings.
So both sides appeared to be keeping to certain boundaries.
But the Jihad was ordered – or tempted – to carry on.
The Jewish festival of Purim begins Friday, March 14, with children parading in costume and carnivals in Israeli towns, presenting an attractive target for provoking violence that would spread to additional sectors in southern Israel, or even Sinai and northern Israel’s borders with Syria and Lebanon.
The first three rockets fired from the Gaza Strip Thursday morning appeared to have come from Salafist groups linked to al Qaeda. They also demonstrated the tinderbox quality of the atmosphere around Israel’s borders and provided Jihad with a surrogate of its own for blasting Israel untouchably from Egyptian Sinai.