Source: Jerusalem Post, By ANNA AHRONHEIM, TZVI JOFFRE, January 2, 2022
Palestinian terrorists fired surface-to-air missiles towards Israel Air Force helicopters during airstrikes against targets in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for the two rockets that had been fired earlier towards central Israel earlier that morning.
According to reports in the Hamas-run enclave, operatives fired SA-7 missiles as well as a number of test rockets towards the sea. Groups in the Strip have fired SAMs towards Israeli platforms during past operations over the Gaza Strip, none have caused any damage, including during the strikes on Saturday evening.
The IDF confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that missiles were fired at the helicopters.
The Soviet-designed SA-7 is a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile (SAMs) that was designed to target aircraft flying at low altitudes. First used in combat by Egyptian troops during the War of Attrition with Israel in 1969, the system likely entered the Gaza Strip via smuggling routes from the Sinai Peninsula following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya in 2011.
The Israeli strikes targeted a Hamas site located west of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip and IDF artillery targeted sites in the northern Gaza Strip as well.
IDF strikes Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire, December 2, 2022 (Credit: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said it had struck a number of targets in Hamas’s rocket production complex.
Two rockets launched from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip fell in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of central Israel, one off the coast of Tel Aviv and the other off the coast of Palmachim south of Rishon Letzion 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.
While Hamas claimed that the rocket fire on Saturday morning was triggered by bad weather, the military believes that the rocket fire was carried out by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Nevertheless, “the terrorist organization Hamas is responsible for what is happening in the Gaza Strip and bears the consequences of terrorist acts from the Gaza Strip,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, at the beginning of the cabinet meeting, said that such excuses would not be accepted by Israel.
“I want to clarify something here – all of Hamas’ of thunder and lightning, which repeat themselves winter after winter, are no longer relevant,” he said.”Whoever directs missiles at the State of Israel – bears responsibility.”
The rocket fire came just days after a civilian working on the Gaza border fence was shot and lightly wounded near the border with the northern Gaza Strip.
Shortly after the shooting on Wednesday, the IDF responded with artillery fire towards a number of Hamas posts in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian reports claimed that at least three Gazan farmers were wounded in the retaliatory strikes.
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.
The spike in tensions around the Gaza Strip comes amid a wave of terror attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as growing tensions in Israeli prisons.
Additionally, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad has demanded the release of Hisham Abu Hawash, a Palestinian in administrative detention who has been on hunger strike for over 130 days. Hawash’s detention has reportedly been frozen in recent days, although he is continuing his hunger strike and is hospitalized.