by WorldTribune Staff, May 31, 2018
Israel says Iran is behind the rocket barrage from the Gaza Strip on May 29 which resulted in the most serious escalation on Israel’s southern front in four years, a report said.
The Iranian-funded Islamic Jihad and Hamas fired 180 projectiles, including mass produced 120mm mortars and more accurate 107mm rockets toward communities in southern Israel, the Jerusalem Post noted in a May 30 report.
Of the projectiles fired by Islamic Jihad at Israeli towns near the Gaza border, two exploded in towns in the Eshkol region, including one that hit the yard of a kindergarten shortly before the children were due to arrive, the Israeli army said.
Three Israeli soldiers and several civilians were wounded by the Gazan salvos and evacuated to a hospital. One soldier was moderately wounded in his legs, while the other two sustained light injuries, the army said.
Israel retaliated with strikes on 65 Hamas targets across the entire Gaza Strip, including a dual-purpose tunnel dug one kilometer into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and then 900 meters into Israeli territory, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said.
IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis said the tunnel was meant not only to carry out attacks against Israel but also to smuggle weaponry into the Gaza Strip.
The mass-produced Iranian mortar shells used in the May 29 attack were also used by Islamic Jihad in an attack in January and in a barrage of 12 mortar shells fired toward an army outpost in November, the Jerusalem Post report said.
“Israel has intercepted Iranian weapons destined for the Strip several times, including just months before the outbreak of Operation Protective Edge, when it stopped the Klos C commercial ship which had set out from Iran and was carrying Syrian-made long-range rockets,” the report said.
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former director-general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry and former head of the research division in Military Intelligence, said that the “relatively short” round of violence on May 29 was in a way “encouraged by the Iranians.”
The rocket attack was “another reflection of Iran’s frustrations and tensions which is trying to show it can cause trouble and instability,” he said, pointing to Hamas’s involvement with the “Great March of Return” and how Hamas’s Yahya Sinwar has boasted about his close ties to Hizbullah and Iran, including IRGC Quds Force commander Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
“Iran doesn’t want stability here. They want to make everyone realize that they are a player, and that they should be taken very seriously with a lot of respect, and in this way deter people from putting more pressure on them; but it isn’t working.”