Two terrorist rockets from Gaza landed in open areas in Sderot on Wednesday morning after Israeli warplanes struck targets late the night before in the Gaza Strip, the first air strikes launched by Israel since an informal cease-fire with Hamas in November.
The IAF strike came in response to rocket fire on southern Israel from Gaza earlier on Tuesday. An Israeli military statement issued Wednesday said its planes targeted “two extensive terror sites” with “accurate hits.” Palestinian officials said no one was hurt in the air strikes and no
damage was reported in northern Gaza.
An al Qaida-linked group, Magles Shoura al-Mujahadeen, claimed responsibility for the attacks on both days, saying it was retaliation for the death of the Maysara Abu Hamdeya in an Israeli prison for terrorist activity.
No one was hurt by the rockets that landed in open areas in Sderot while parents were on their way to work and children on their way to school. IDF army officials said they assumed the terrorists had chosen that time of day for the attack, knowing the vulnerabilities.
Sderot resident Shimon Abutbul, who was taking his son to school when the Qassams hit, told Ynet, “It is frightening to send children to school like this. But we calm down as soon as they arrive at the fortified school,” he said.
“We knew the calm would not be maintained, but every time it happens, we feel the despair again,” Sderot resident Itzik Biton said.
Sderot Mayor David Buskila: “I think the IDF’s response is adequate. [But] we must not return to the reality that prevailed here before Pillar of Defense.”
“[Israel’s armed forces] decided to attack overnight in order to signal to Hamas that we will not suffer any strike on the south. And any shooting will meet a response, in order to restore quiet for the south soon,” Brigadier-General Yoav Mordechai, the chief military spokesman, said on Army Radio.
“I assess that Hamas has no interest in seeing the situation deteriorate,” he said. “Our goal is to maintain the quiet.”
By Wednesday afternoon, the south was quiet again, perhaps an indication that Hamas had for the time being prevailed on its comrades to hold fire.