On Thursday, Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system was activated in Tel Aviv, the country’s iconic bustling metropolis on the Mediterranean. Footage captured rockets, initially fired from the Gaza Strip, flying over Tel Aviv.
Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, uprooting many Jewish “settlers” in the process. Since 2007, the Sunni supremacist terror group Hamas, which is the Palestinian-Arab offshoot of the international Muslim Brotherhood and whose founding organizational charter calls for the death of all Jews the world over, has governed the Strip. Although other terrorist groups, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad, operate in the Strip, it is standard Israeli government policy to hold Hamas responsible for all rockets fired from the troubled area.
As The Jerusalem Post notes, this marks the first time that rocket sirens have been sounded in Tel Aviv since the last full-scale Israel/Hamas war in 2014.
As a result of the rockets, Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be holding security consultations at the Kirya IDF Military Headquarters in Tel Aviv to discuss an Israeli response.
Local reports in Gaza said that Hamas had begun evacuating military posts in anticipation of retaliatory strikes by Israel.
While there were no special instructions given by the Home Front Command to residents of central Israel, the municipality of Tel Aviv has opened bomb shelters across the city.
According to initial reports, the two Fajr rockets were fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza, the second strongest group in the coastal enclave after Hamas.
U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, who is currently helping spearhead President Donald Trump’s much-ballyhooed upcoming “peace plan” for Israel and the Palestinian-Arabs, immediately took to Twitter to unequivocally place the blame on the jihadist group: “Hamas violently suppresses its own people demonstrating against Hamas’ rule & failures today and NOW fires rockets at cities in Israel. OUTRAGEOUS! This is what prevents the world from helping the people of Gaza! We strongly support Israel in defense of its citizens. Always!”
The Tel Aviv skirmish takes place in the midst of the lead-up to Israel’s national elections, which will be held next month. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently seeking re-election while under formal indictment by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.
Some prominent Israeli hawks have already come out in favor of new military action in Gaza. Arutz Sheva reports that famously hawkish Chairman of the New Right party, Naftali Bennett, is one such proponent:
New Right Chairman Naftali Bennett responded to the rocket attack on Tel Aviv Thursday evening.
“No matter who is behind the shooting tonight, Hamas bears responsibility,” Bennett said.
“In the past year I have been saying clearly: Those who allow the launching of kites will receive missiles. And anyone who does not stop missiles on Sderot will receive missiles on Tel Aviv. The time has come to defeat Hamas once and for all. No more shooting at dunes without harming the enemy, but an uncompromising pursuit and systematic liquidation of Hamas leaders.
“I call upon the prime minister to order the IDF to present the cabinet with a plan to defeat Hamas,” he said.