Peretz, Lapid say Hamas rocket fire shows failure of government’s Gaza policies

Peretz, Lapid say Hamas rocket fire shows failure of government’s Gaza policies

Labor-Gesher head says Netanyahu made an error when he absolved Hamas of responsibility for this week’s violence; Lapid: Fresh breach of ceasefire shows lack of clear strategy

Chairman of the Labor-Gesher party Amir Peretz speaks at a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, October 28, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Chairman of the Labor-Gesher party Amir Peretz speaks at a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, October 28, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Opposition lawmakers on Saturday assailed the government, saying that discriminating between the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups during a flare-up in violence this week between Israel and Gaza was an error, after Hamas was said to have fired two rockets toward Beersheba in the early hours of the morning.

Labor-Gesher alliance chairman MK Amir Peretz tweeted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a mistake in reversing the government’s usual policy of holding the ruling terror group responsible for all attacks emanating from Gaza.

“Netanyahu’s attempt to contain Hamas and exempt it from responsibility for the latest round of escalation proved to be a mistake,” tweeted Peretz, a resident and former mayor of rocket-battered Sderot.

In addition, Peretz said that military action combined with political moves was the only possible future strategy.

“If Hamas is responsible for the Gaza Strip, Hamas is responsible for any terrorist activity against Israel, whether [Palestinian Islamic] Jihad or any other terrorist organization is firing. The solution for Gaza must be a combination of military force with a political strategy,” Peretz wrote.

Blue and White party No. 2 MK Yair Lapid speaks at a party faction meeting in the Knesset, October 3, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Blue and White No. 2 Yair Lapid also blamed the prime minister, saying the fresh breach of the ceasefire was due to a lack of clear strategy.

“Last night Hamas breached the ceasefire and fired rockets at Israel. Why? Because it can. We’re paying for the lack of clear policy over the past five years,” Lapid wrote on Facebook.

“Without a clear policy we’ll continue to go from ceasefire to ceasefire, with no control and with no achievements.”

In a fresh breach of the ceasefire overnight Friday-Saturday, two rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip, setting off rocket sirens in Beersheba for the first time this week. Hebrew-language media reported that the Israeli security services assessed the rockets were launched by Hamas.

Members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist terror group Hamas, attend a memorial in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on January 31, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Both projectiles were shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense system, the IDF said. The Magen David Adom emergency and rescue service said it treated five people for anxiety and four who were injured while running to bomb shelters following the attack.

Significantly, the IDF said it responded to the rocket fire by carrying out strikes on Hamas terror targets in the enclave. During this week’s fighting, Israel traded blows with the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, while the Gaza-ruling Hamas sat on the sidelines.

In a statement Saturday morning, the IDF said Hamas targets hit in the strikes included a military camp and a compound serving the terror group’s naval forces. In addition, underground infrastructure was also hit. No casualties were reported in the strikes.

“The Hamas terror organization is responsible for everything in the Gaza Strip and will bear the consequences of terror acts carried out against Israeli citizens,” the IDF said.

Rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, November 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

The rocket attack came after the leaders of the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups spoke and agreed to increase cooperation, Palestinian media reported.

Channel 13 news reported that Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nahala spoke on the phone shortly before two rockets were fired toward Beersheba.

A day earlier, senior Hamas members were twice barred from a mourning tent for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror chief whose killing by Israel set off the fighting. The mourners were apparently angry at Hamas after the Gaza-ruling terror group did not take part in the Tuesday-Wednesday flare-up between Israel and Islamic Jihad.

On Friday Hamas acknowledged that one of its operatives had been killed during the fighting this week.

The Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, said Ahmed Abdel al-A’al was one its members. A statement from the group did not clarify whether he was taking part in fighting when he died.

According to the military wing, al-A’al, 23, and two of his teenage brothers were killed in a “Zionist bombardment” on Wednesday.

The outbreak of violence in the early hours of Saturday morning came as Israelis had started recovering from two days of intense fighting between Israel and Gaza terror groups.

Israeli firefighters battle a blaze at a factory in Sderot, southern Israel, hit by a rocket fired from Gaza, on November 12, 2019 (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

From the predawn Tuesday to Thursday morning, Israel and Islamic Jihad fought a battle in which over 450 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel from Gaza, and the IDF responded with dozens of airstrikes on Islamic Jihad facilities and on the terror cells as they were firing and preparing to launch rockets.

The escalation began when an IDF targeted missile strike killed Baha Abu al-Ata, a commander in the Islamic Jihad terror group who Israel said was the “prime instigator” of terrorism from Gaza over the past year.

Palestinian sources said 34 Gazans were killed in the two days of conflict. Israel said 25 of the fatalities were terrorists; human rights officials said 16 civilians were among the dead.

Fifty-eight Israelis were lightly and moderately injured or treated for anxiety.

An explosion caused by Israeli airstrikes is seen in Gaza City, November 14, 2019. (Adel Hana/AP)

Most of the rockets from Gaza either landed in open fields or were intercepted by Israeli air defenses. Some struck homes, businesses and streets, causing injuries and significant property damage. Dozens of people were also hurt as they fell running to bomb shelters.

In response to the attacks, the Israeli military conducted dozens of strikes on Islamic Jihad bases and weapons facilities, as well as rocket-launching teams throughout the Strip.

Israel and Islamic Jihad agreed to a ceasefire on Thursday morning, although there were four rocket attacks throughout the day Thursday and the IDF attacked Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza overnight in response.

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