Monday, June 30 saw a sharp escalation in rocket fire, with the intensification in attacks beginning in the morning, prior to the discovery of the boys’ bodies. That day, Hamas itself fired rockets.
On July 1, 2014, five rocket hits were identified. Vehicles and a packing house in one of the towns in the western Negev were damaged. A woman was treated for shock. Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the rocket fire (Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades Facebook page, July 1, 2014).On June 30, 2014, 12 rocket hits were identified. Some of them may have been fired by operatives of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing. If Hamas was in fact responsible for rocket fire, it was the first time since Operation Pillar of Defense (November 2012.)
Israel has boosted its forces along the Gaza border, with officials sending out a message that Israel would only be able to sustain militant rocket fire for another 24, or maximum 48, hours before undertaking a major military offensive.
The security cabinet convened last night – for the fourth consecutive day – to consider Israel’s response as artillery pieces and tanks took up positions along the border.
Israeli military spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner confirmed that the army has moved forces to serve defensive activities and forward preparations.
“The main issue is how Hamas is reading the situation. We don’t want to take it further, but we will be prepared for developments.”
Hamas has issued statements over recent days making clear that it doesn’t seek a wider conflagration. However, rocket fire has intensified, making an Israeli response more likely.
Arabic daily Al-Hayat reports that Israel warned Hamas and Islamic Jihad through Egypt on Monday that if the rocket fire persists, the IDF will respond strongly.
“Israel will strike Gaza with a heavy hand if the two movements don’t accept a truce,” a senior Egyptian official told representatives of the two organizations, according to a Palestinian official.
Israel and its Palestinian adversaries in Gaza sharply escalated the latest deadly resurgence of hostilities on Tuesday. The Israeli military conducted an intense aerial bombardment that targeted at least 50 Gazan sites, including homes, and militants in the enclave responded with a long-range missile volley aimed at Israeli population centers, including Tel Aviv. At least three of the Gaza rockets were intercepted by Israel defenses.
The air campaign comes after three weeks of escalating confrontation, with rocket attacks from Gaza against southern Israel and Israeli airstrikes on targets it has described as concealed rocket launchers, training sites and weapons manufacturing facilities associated with Hamas and other militant groups.
Palestinian witnesses and health officials said at least 14 people had been killed in the Israeli attacks, including seven in a
house hit by a missile or rocket that went through the roof. It was not clear if the Gaza rockets caused any casualties or damage in Israel. (Paragraph 2)Witnesses and Health Ministry officials in Gaza said the first of at least five deadly airstrikes on Tuesday destroyed a car in Gaza City, killing three unidentified occupants. The second was an Israeli rocket that witnesses said had been fired by an F-16 warplane on a house in Khan Younis, a town in the southeast part of Gaza, were seven occupants were found dead in the wreckage.A telephoned warning was made to the owner of the targeted home in Khan Younis five minutes before the bombing, apparently part of the Israeli military’s stated effort to minimize unintended civilian casualties. Salah Kaware, 25, who lived in the house, said that a call came to the cellphone of his brother’s wife and that the caller urged her to leave. Some of the occupants were descending the upper floor stairway when the roof was hit with a rocket, Mr. Kaware said in a telephone interview. (Paragraphs 6-7)Al Aksa radio, run by Hamas, reported that residents received warnings a few minutes before the houses were bombed. Hamas’s military wing said in an emailed statement that the bombing of the houses was “a serious escalation” that “will oblige us to enlarge our attacks deeper into Israel.” (Paragraph 10)
5:59 P.M. Since “Operation Protective Edge” began seven homes of Hamas members and apparently one home of an Islamic Jihad member were bombed by the Israel Air Force. Palestinians confirm that the IDF called to warn families prior to the attacks and to ask them to leave. (Jack Khoury)
2:22 P.M. Four Palestinians were killed in an IDF strike on a vehicle in the center of the Gaza Strip, Palestinians report, raising the death toll in the Strip since this morning to five. Their identity is still unclear, but Shin Bet said the airstrike was a joint IDF and Shin Bet operation, targeting Mohammed Shaaban, 24, a commander in the Hamas naval forces. (Jack Khoury, Gili Cohen)
Earlier, three people were killed in a separate strike on a car in central Gaza City, [emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra] said, correcting an earlier report of four fatalities.
Relatives told AFP all three were Hamas militants. One was identified as Mohammed Shaaban,32, a senior commander who ran the Brigades’ naval unit.
The call came to the cellpho
ne of his brother’s wife, Salah Kaware said on Tuesday. Mr. Kaware live in Khan Younis, in southeast Gaza, and the caller said that everyone in the house must leave in five minutes, because it was going to be bombed.A further warning came as they were leaving, he said in a telephone interview, when an Israeli drone apparently fired a flare at the roof of the three story-home. “Our neighbors came in to form a human shield,” he said, with some even going to the roof to try to prevent a bombing. Others were in the stairway when the house was bombed not long afterward.