Report: Be’er Sheva Rocket Was Launched Not by Hamas, But by Lightning

Israeli sappers stand on a crane as they work on a house that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Be’er Sheva, Wednesday. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

Although it did not authorize a major military action in Gaza at its lengthy meeting Wednesday night, the Security Cabinet has ordered the IDF to upgrade its responses to Gaza terror by Hamas and other groups if such terror occurs. The ministers ordered the IDF to “gradually increase” its responses to Gaza border fence rioting, balloon terror, tire burning, and the other phenomena that have accompanied the recent increase in Gaza terror.

The meeting was attended by members of the Security Cabinet, as well as IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, who presented two plans to the ministers, Yediot Acharonot said – one to deal with the balloon terror attacks that have destroyed thousands of dunams of forests and farms in southern Israel over the past eight months, and to bring an end to the mass rioting at the Gaza border, which has been taking place on Fridays, and increasingly now during the rest of the week as well. Those plans, which feature a gradual increase in the IDF’s response to terror acts by Gazans, were accepted over a more aggressive plan presented by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Commenting on the report, Housing Minister Yoav Galant, a member of the Security Cabinet, said that he could not discuss details, “but I can say that the rules are about to change.” Speaking at a conference of builders in Eilat, Galant said that Israel “will no longer tolerate the balloon terror and fence terror it has been subjected to.”

Meanwhile, a report in Maariv quoted security officials in Israel as saying that it was likely that the Grad rocket that caused massive damage to a house in Be’er Sheva Tuesday night was not fired by Hamas or Islamic Jihad terrorists – but was instead set off by a bolt of lightning that triggered the missile’s launch mechanism. The report said that Hamas top terrorists also believe that this was the case.

Footage of the rocket firing was posted on social media by Channel Ten reporter Ben Caspit. The footage shows several bolts of lightning appearing in the skies over Gaza. The lighting is followed by the launching of two rockets, veering off in different directions. One hit a house in Beersheva, causing massive damage, while the second fell off the coast south of Tel Aviv. In his post, Caspit wrote that the incident “was the subject of not a few jokes in the Security Cabinet meeting.”

In a joint statement Wednesday, Hamas and Islamic Jihad said that they were not responsible for the firing of a rocket at Israel early Wednesday morning, saying that it was carried out by groups seeking to derail Egyptian efforts to bring calm to the area. “We reject irresponsible efforts to harm the Egyptian efforts, and that includes the firing of this rocket,” the statement said. With that, the groups said, they were “ready to repel Israeli attacks, and when we do we will not hide it but will instead make it very clear to all that we are doing so.”

Sirens sounded in the Be’er Sheva area early Wednesday, as Gaza terrorists fired two rockets at Israel. One hit in the backyard of a house in Be’er Sheva and the other fell into the sea off the Israeli coast. Several people in Be’er Sheva were treated for injuries sustained as they fell, rushing to get into a bomb shelter, while several children were treated for shock. Three of the children were in the home that was damaged when the rocket hit in the backyard, causing heavy damage to the house.

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