Israel mulls next steps following heavy rocket fire

A lengthy meeting of Israel’s security cabinet took place yesterday evening following a day of heavy Gaza rocket fire at communities across south and central Israel.

In total, 168 rockets were launched from Gaza during Wednesday, making it the heaviest day of rocket fire on Israel since Operation Protective Edge began 44 days ago. Since Hamas breached a truce on Tuesday, bringing about the collapse of ceasefire talks, more than 220 rockets have been fired at Israel; around were 35 intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Also yesterday, Israel continued to launch air strikes against strategic targets in the Gaza Strip. The IDF said that around 20 targets were hit overnight, while Palestinian reports said that four people had been killed in strikes in Rafah during the night. One of the recent Israeli air operations targeted Hamas’s military commander Mohammed Deif, who has long been one of Israel’s most wanted targets. Although his wife and son were killed in the strike, it remains unclear whether Deif himself survived or not. Hamas claimed that Deif is alive and warned that its rockets will specifically target Ben Gurion International Airport today.

Meanwhile, yesterday evening, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon spoke to the media following a meeting of the security cabinet which lasted several hours. Netanyahu gave no definitive details over what actions Israel will now take, but simply said “Operation Protective Edge has not ended, not for a moment – this is an ongoing campaign.” He added, “In recent weeks, we’ve dealt Hamas a harsh blow,” and commented that Hamas leaders are legitimate targets. Indeed this morning, Hamas announced that three of its senior commanders had been killed overnight.

Netanyahu also said that Hamas is “more isolated than you would imagine. The whole Arab world is against it” with support from just “Qatar, Turkey, and Iran.” Netanyahu summarised saying that his primary goal is to restore quiet for Israeli citizens, whether through diplomacy or on the battlefield.

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