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Israel Attacks Terrorist Rocket Launchers in Gaza, IDF Warns Israelis Near Border to Take Shelter

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JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel began another round of strikes Wednesday against Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). This time the strikes are against rocket launching sites, and at least one member of a PIJ rocket crew was reported killed.

The military has ordered Israeli residents on the Gaza border to stay inside, and for the first time since Israel announced its intention to attack terrorist targets, sirens have sounded in the coastal city of Ashkelon and other towns in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of rockets have been fired at Israel so far.

The strikes are designed to degrade the terror group’s ability to fire rockets into southern Israel. Tuesday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned terror groups within Gaza not to harm Israeli civilians.

After PIJ fired more than 100 rockets into Israel last week, Netanyahu authorized strikes to target 3 of the group’s top leaders.

“Israel’s policy is clear: Those who seek to harm Israel will be harmed,” the prime minister warned. “Those who kill our citizens will pay a heavy price. And those who fire on our cities and civilians will be held responsible for their actions. It may take time, but Israel will ultimately reach these terrorists. No one should doubt Israel’s resolve to defend its citizens.”

The strike succeeded in taking out much of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad brain trust, although at least 12 others died in the air attack.

“As always, Israel tried to minimize civilian casualties, and the State of Israel regrets any harm caused to non-combatants,” Netanyahu said in his Tuesday night address. “The difference between Israel and our enemies is that we make every effort to keep the enemies’ civilian population out of harm’s way, while our enemies make every effort to deliberately target our civilians. We mourn the loss of innocent lives; They celebrate the loss of innocent life.”

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Israeli security experts told CBN News the Israeli strikes restored a level of deterrance, and that Iran is the power behind the PIJ.

Former Israel Defense Forces International Spokesperson Avital Leibovich told CBN News it’s all part of Iran’s strategic objective. “Iran is the main director of the initiatives of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, PIJ,” Leibovich explained. “It’s the funder. It’s also the training element. I mean, at the end of the day, these terrorists need to know how to prepare a drone, how to arm a drone, how to prepare IED explosive device. And Iranian experts are actually helping them achieve these terroristic goals.”

She added, “The most important message I will tell the American audience is the Iranian presence. In three out of Israel’s four borders, there is Iranian presence, and I don’t mean it in a positive way. I mean, Iran is trying to build some kind of a network of terror groups by delivering here—arms, strategic weapons, different capabilities.  They say it loud and clear. They don’t want Israel to exist.”

After today’s military action and rocket retaliation, it’s unclear whether Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, will join the fight.

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