Israel: Iranian Force in Syria Behind Rocket Attack on South

IDF says that Islamic Jihad is behind attacks Friday night, under orders from Iran. Adds that it holds Hamas responsible for the Gaza Strip and has therefore targeted only Hamas targets

A fireball exploding during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City,  October 27, 2018.
AFP

The Islamic Jihad is responsible for firing rockets into Gaza Friday night, Israel's security services said Saturday.

Friday night's events, in which 36 rockets were launched at Israel from Gaza, "were led by the Islamic Jihad with clear guidance from Iran and the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force in Syria," the IDF spokesman said Saturday. "The entire incident was under Iran's guidance through the Quds force that led the attacks," the IDF said. 

>> For latest updates on Gaza, click here ■ Israel strikes 80 Hamas targets in Gaza Friday, 30 rockets launched at south

The IDF struck 87 Hamas targets Friday and an additional eight Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza on Saturday. On Saturday, the Islamic Jihad announced it had reached a cease-fire with Israel, brokered by Egypt.

According to the security services, the motives behind the rockets launch are still unclear: The organization could be following an Iranian order, given reports for progress on reaching an agreement in Gaza. Another option is that Islamic Jihad is not satisfied with the achievements Hamas reached with Israel, and is pushing Palestinians to step up their efforts in order to gain more ground.

IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said that the events Friday night reflect the connection between the various threats against Israel, led by Iran. "The IDF's prioritizes Iran and its entrenchment in Syria, as well as Hezbollah, the safety of residents of Judea and Samaria and of Israeli settlements near the Gaza border and the fight against ISIS," Manelis said. 

Manelis added that the IDF had conveyed a "clear message in the past few hours, that no one is immune, neither in Gaza nor outside Gaza."

Manelis added that Islamic Jihad targets had not been attacked Friday because Israel holds Hamas responsible for the rocket barrage. Israel is demanding that Hamas restrain Islamic Jihad and restore order in Gaza. The Islamic Jihad organization said in response that if Israel continues to bomb the Strip, the organization would respond accordingly.

Around 16,000 people participated in protests along the Gaza border Friday, the IDF said in a statement, adding they threw stones at troops as well as fire-bombs and granades, while also burning tIres. Five Palestinians were killed in these protests by live IDF fire. In two occasions protestors managed to breach the fence for a short period of time, the statement added. 

Manelis said that when Hamas brings so many people to the fence, "Hamas' ability to prevent the throwing of explosives and tires is almost nonexistent."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Oman, which neighbors Iran, Thursday and met with Sultan Qaboos Bin Said. The meeting was the first of its kind between leaders of the two countries since 1996.

In addition, the chief of general staff of Azerbaijan's armed forces arrived in Israel for his first official visit. Azerbaijan is Iran's northern neighbor, and the country has maintained close ties with Israel in recent years.

The Israel Air Force said it struck around 85 Hamas targets late Friday night after 30 rockets were launched at Israel's south. According to an IDF spokesperson, dozens of fighter jets and other IDF aircrafts carried out the strikes in Gaza. Among the sites attacked were two major weapons manufacturing locations and five military compounds, as well as a building that serves Hamas' general security forces in Gaza City, according to the IDF. 

The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted eleven rockets fired into Israel's south, the military said, including one Saturday morning.