Gaza terrorists fired another Qassam rocket toward Israel Tuesday morning, after having fired over 55 rockets and shells into Israel the previous day. The rocket exploded inside Palestinian territory near the border fence, causing no injuries or damage.
Despite relative calm overnight, the area remains under high alert.
Monday's barrage came in response to an Israel Air Force strike in the Gaza Strip that critically wounded two Islamic Jihad operatives in Rafah, one of which has since succumbed to his wounds. The two had been involved in extensive terror activities against Israel.
The two operatives were Talaat Halil Mohammed Jerbi, 23, and Abdullah Mohammed Hassan Makawi, 24, both members of world jihadist organizations. A source within the Israeli defense establishment reported that Jerbi had been involved in the planning and execution of a terror attack along the Israel-Sinai border on June 18, in which an Israeli civilian was killed. Jerbi was also in the midst of planning a fresh attack, according to other Israeli defense officials.
After being hospitalized, Makawi died on Monday. Other Gazans wounded in the strike were apparently local residents. For the purposes of publicity, Hamas emphasized that three children, a woman and an elderly man had been wounded in the attack.
The Palestinian response was a nearly incessant barrage of mortar shells and rockets fired into southern Israel throughout the day Monday. The residents of the communities situated near the Gaza border were instructed to take shelter in designated facilities, preventing any casualties. Several buildings and vehicles did, however, sustain damage.
The most extensive damage was to a petting zoo at a kibbutz in the area, where several goats were killed or wounded. Due to the Sukkot holiday, the zoo, which is usually full of visitors, was closed on Monday.
In an unusual move, Hamas claimed responsibility for the rocket fire in conjunction with Islamic Jihad, saying the rocket fire was in retaliation for the Israel Air Force strike over the holiday. Hamas declared that they would retaliate for any Israel Defense Forces action with "full force."
The organization mentioned further that it was cooperating with Islamic Jihad, in contrast to previous rounds of violence when Hamas distanced itself from responsibility for the rocket fire. This time, the Gaza rulers decided to take a different approach: "We have the right to protect ourselves," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.
Israeli defense officials believe that Monday's massive rocket fire was launched by advanced, multibarreled, entrenched rocket launchers, Channel 10 news reported Tuesday. The launchers are reportedly operated by remote control or timer, allowing the terror organizations to fire more than 55 projectiles within the span of several hours.
The commanders of the various Gaza Strip terrorist groups are looking for ways to circumvent Israel's highly effective Iron Dome rocket interceptor system. "Under conditions like these, the rocket fire cannot be intercepted," one senior defense official told Channel 10.
"The growing use of multibarreled rocket launchers comes in preparation for a possible clash, should one erupt," a Southern Command officer told Channel 10. "The commanders of the terror organizations have expedited the development of massive firing capabilities, due, in part, to the success of Iron Dome."
The officer added that the rocket squads are looking for ways to launch projectiles without having to be in the field, to avoid casualties. "Hamas and other organizations are trying to emulate Hezbollah, by putting launchers on pickup trucks as well," the officer said.