TWO rockets launched from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip fell in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of central Israel early on Saturday morning.
“Earlier this morning, two rocket launches were identified from the Gaza Strip toward the Mediterranean.
The rockets fell off the coast of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. According to protocol, no sirens were sounded and no interception took place,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.
The rockets were heard in the cities of Tel Aviv, Holon, Bat Yam and Rishon Lezion.
According to reports, one rocket fell near Tel Aviv while the other landed near Palmahim, south of the city. There were no injuries and, despite the smoke seen off the coast, no reports of damage.
Army Radio reported that Egypt has sent a message to Israel that the rocket fire was not intentional and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi held situational assessments regarding the rocket fire.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held consultations over Shabbat regarding the rocket fire, according to a political source.Groups in the Gaza Strip said that the two rockets were caused by “weather conditions.”
Hamas has used the excuse of lightning strikes causing rockets to be launched toward Israel, including in November of last year. In that incident, two rockets were fired and landed north of Ashdod and the other struck Palmahim Beach. In response, Israeli jets struck military positions and an underground structure belonging to Hamas.
Other incidents where lightning was blamed for rocket fire included one in March 2019 where a rocket made a direct impact on a home in the central town of Mishmeret in the Sharon Plain and injured seven people, as well as another in October 2018 when a home in Beersheba was destroyed after a rocket made a direct hit and another landed off the coast of Israel.
All rockets had been aimed towards the Jewish state and were preemptively primed.
The rocket launches come as the Israeli military said that this had been the longest period of operational quiet in relation to the four most recent operations in the coastal enclave.
In the six months following the 11 days of fighting in May, known as Operation Guardian of the Walls, only five long-range rockets were fired from the Hamas-run coastal enclave toward Israel.
In comparison, 22 rockets were fired following Protective Edge in 2014, 196 rockets were fired following Cast Lead in 2009, and 76 were fired following Pillar of Defense in 2012.
Despite the relative quiet, it remains tense in southern Israel with Hamas continuing to hold large-scale military drills, firing rockets toward the sea in an attempt to improve their rocket arsenal and threaten Israel.
In August, a Border Police officer was shot at point-blank range during a violent protest along the Gaza border fence. He died nine days later.
On Wednesday, senior officials from the terrorist group met with Hezbollah officials in the Lebanese capital of Beirut and vowed that they are preparing for a military confrontation with Israel.
Later that day, an Israeli civilian doing maintenance work on the newly completed border fence in the northern sector was lightly wounded after he was shot by a sniper.
In response, Israeli tanks fired artillery shells towards a Hamas post near Gaza City, wounding several farmers. The IDF also closed roads next to the border fence out of concern over additional attacks and ordered farmers to stay away from land near the border.■
[Courtesy: Anna AHRONHEIM / Jerusalem Post]