The Israel Defense Forces believes at least four Palestinians killed during the latest round of fighting in the Gaza Strip, including children, died as a result of explosions caused by failed rocket launches by Palestinian terror operatives and not due to Israeli strikes.
According to military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, of the 507 rockets launched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad at Israel as of Thursday morning, around 110 fell short in the Gaza Strip.
In one of the incidents, on Wednesday evening, 16-year-old Rami Shadi Hamdan and 51-year-old Ahmed Muhammad a-Shabaki were killed when a failed rocket slammed into a residential area of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, according to IDF estimates.
In another case late Wednesday, 10-year-old Layan Bilal Mohammad Abdullah Mdoukh and 16-year-old Yazan Jawdat Fathi Elayyan were killed in Gaza City in a similarly failed rocket launch, according to military assessments.
The IDF published a clip on Thursday morning showing Islamic Jihad launching a barrage of rockets at Israel late Wednesday, with several rockets seen falling short and landing in Gaza.
Since the start of the operation, known as Shield and Arrow, Israel has made clear it would avoid targeting civilians, though at least 10 were killed in the military’s opening strikes targeting senior Islamic Jihad members. (Some were the wives and children of the terror commanders, while others were neighbors).
While Islamic Jihad is believed to possess thousands of projectiles, the vast majority of them are thought to be low-quality short-range rockets or mortars that fail at a relatively high rate, according to military assessments.
During the last major flareup with Islamic Jihad, in August 2022, the IDF said more Palestinian children were killed as a result of failed rockets than in Israeli strikes.
At least 25 people in Gaza have been killed since Israel launched its surprise offensive on Tuesday morning, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza, and dozens more were injured. The figure included both terrorists targeted by Israel and civilians, as well as civilians believed killed by Islamic Jihad rocket misfires.
Separately on Thursday morning, the IDF published a video and audio clip showing Israeli Air Force officers calling off a strike on an Islamic Jihad target, after identifying children in the area.
Operation Shield and Arrow began with the assassinations of three top Islamic Jihad commanders. Another senior officer was killed in a strike early Thursday.
The terror group has responded by firing hundreds of rockets at Israeli communities, some causing material damage across southern Israel late Wednesday.
Homes, buildings and cars were hit by shrapnel from rockets or from falling Israeli interceptor missiles in cities including Sderot, Ashkelon and Netivot, as some rockets managed to penetrate Israel’s air defenses.
No injuries were reported, though a number of people sought treatment for wounds suffered as they tried to reach shelter, or because of severe anxiety from nearby impacts.
The rocket fire has reached as far as Tel Aviv and Beersheba.