In rare move, Hamas-run Interior Ministry criticizes rocket attack on Israel

Ministry vows to take action against those behind rocket fire; Hamas official says terror group ‘has no interest’ in escalation

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Illustrative: Hamas security forces in Gaza City, April 4, 2013. (Wissam Nassar/Flash90/File)
Illustrative: Hamas security forces in Gaza City, April 4, 2013. (Wissam Nassar/Flash90/File)

In a rare move, the Hamas-run Interior Ministry criticized the firing of rockets at Tel Aviv on Thursday evening and vowed to take action against those who launched them.

For the first time since the 2014 Gaza war, two rockets from the Gaza Strip were fired at the heart of Israel.

Residents of Israel’s second-largest city Tel Aviv and the surrounding metropolis of Gush Dan rushed to bomb shelters and reported hearing explosions. The rockets both hit open areas, and did not cause casualties. However, five people were treated for shock by paramedics.

“We are following up on the firing of rockets from Gaza against the national consensus and the ministry will take measures against the violators,” the Hamas Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Hamas-run institutions seldom take public positions against rocket fire at Israel. Hamas is an Islamist terror group that openly calls for Israel’s destruction.

Earlier in the evening, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing denied that it launched the rockets, emphasizing that they were shot off when the Hamas leadership and an Egyptian security delegation were meeting in Gaza.

Screen capture from video showing the Tel Aviv skyline on March 14 as rocket warning sirens blare after the launch of two rockets from the Gaza Strip (IDF)

The Egyptian delegation was in Gaza to meet Hamas leaders to discuss efforts to cement and advance a de facto ceasefire between terror groups in the Strip and Israel. The Egyptian security officials left the coastal enclave after the rockets were fired, Ma’an, a Palestinian news site, reported, citing a source close to the delegation.

A Hamas official told The Times of Israel that the terror group “has no interest in an escalation” with Israel. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, added he “has no idea” who fired rockets toward Tel Aviv.

In recent escalations of violence with Israel, terror groups in Gaza have mainly fired rockets and projectiles at the southern parts of the Jewish state adjacent to the Gaza-Israel border.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shehab also said PIJ was not behind the rocket fire, calling accusations that the terror group launched them “baseless lies and claims.”

Immediately after the rockets were shot off, Israeli TV reporters speculated that Islamic Jihad launched them.

In the past 12 years, terror groups in Gaza and Israel have fought three major wars.

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