The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday blamed the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad for the recent increase in violence from the Gaza Strip and called for Hamas, the de facto ruler of the enclave, to rein in the terror group.
“We do not plan to accept terror attacks and rocket fire against our citizens,” the IDF’s Arabic-language spokesperson Avichay Adraee tweeted.
Adraee was referring to a number of rocket and mortar attacks directed against southern Israel and infiltration attempts along the border in recent days.
Rockets were fired at Israel from the enclave late Wednesday and early Thursday, prompting Israeli reprisal attacks.
There were no injuries in the Palestinian rocket attacks.
The Islamic Jihad is the second most powerful terror group in the Gaza Strip after Hamas. Israel has routinely accused the Iran-backed group of seeking to derail its unofficial ceasefire agreements with Hamas by carrying out attacks from Gaza.
“Hamas, as the ruler of the Strip, must enforce its authority over Islamic Jihad and prevent these terror attacks and plots,” Adraee said.
The spokesman said Islamic Jihad is responsible for any failure to implement the conditions of the ceasefire agreements and that it will “suffer the consequences” for these activities.
The IDF launches flares near the border east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 22, 2019. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Hamas, an Islamic terror that seeks to destroy Israel, seized control of Gaza from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in a 2007 bloody coup. Israel holds Hamas responsible for preventing attacks from the Strip.
Hamas has sought to distance itself from a series of cross-border attacks over the past month, painting the perpetrators as young lone-wolf Palestinian attackers exasperated by the humanitarian situation in the enclave. On Monday, Hamas leaders expressed concern that popular anger could snowball into another war with Israel.
Last week, Hamas reportedly deployed extra security forces to the border area to stop the cross border attacks. Nonetheless, on Saturday Israel said it identified a group of armed Palestinian approaching the fence to carry out a cross border attack and killed them with tank and helicopter fire.
Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations have recently played key roles in brokering informal ceasefires between Israel and Gaza, which have largely entailed Hamas and other terror groups halting violence in the border area in exchange for the Jewish state scaling back some of the restrictions it has imposed on the coastal enclave.
Thursday morning’s rocket attack was the sixth rocket fired at Israel from the enclave in the past week. One rocket was fired at southern Israel on Friday night, followed by three on Saturday night Saturday. Three of these projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system. One rocket struck outside a home in the southern town of Sderot, causing light damage, but no physical injuries.
The Israeli military retaliated to the Friday night attack, bombing two Hamas positions in the coastal enclave. There was no military response to the Saturday night rocket attack.