Jerusalem, Aug. 28 – Two days after a second ceasefire was declared by Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad, terrorists have fired four rockets at Israeli towns, including a Grad rocket that struck near the southern city of Beersheba on Sunday morning (Aug. 28).
The Grad hit an open field; as with the other rockets fired since Palestinian Islamic Jihad declared the ceasefire on Friday (Aug. 26), there were no injuries. On the same day, a Qassam rocket hit the Negev region. (Click here to watch footage of damage.) Also on Friday, another Qassam hit the city of Ashkelon; on Saturday, a Qassam again struck the Negev region.
The first truce, which went into effect on Aug. 21, crumbled after Gaza-based terrorists fired a barrage of rockets and mortars at Israel.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad is one of several terrorist groups funded by Iran in Hamas-controlled Gaza. It is a small group with roots in the Muslim Brotherhood. As of Sunday morning, the group had yet to make any statements about the rocket strikes in the wake of the new ceasefire. However in a statement Thursday, a day before announcing the first ceasefire, the group threatened to extend the range of its rocket capabilities, sending projectiles even deeper into Israeli territory, Israel Radio reported.
"Our war with the occupation has begun and there is no possibility of discussing a truce," the group said in a statement.
The rocket attacks followed a wave of assaults in southern Israel on Aug. 18 that killed eight Israelis near the border with Egypt. Twelve terrorists from four different groups, including at least three Egyptians, were responsible for the attacks. In addition to the wave of attacks, terrorists in Gaza have fired rockets and mortars at Israel on a daily basis despite a ceasefire announced Sunday. Gaza is run by Hamas, which is funded, trained and armed by Iran.
Israel responded both to the Aug. 18 attacks and the ensuing daily rocket barrages that hit various cities across southern Israel, with targeted airstrikes on terrorist leaders in Gaza. Two members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad have been killed.
Beersheba, the latest city targeted, is Israel’s southern capital and home to 200,000 people. Until recently, its distance from Gaza – 26 miles (42 km) – meant that it was rarely subject to rocket attacks. That all changed last Saturday (Aug. 20) when terrorists fired rockets from Gaza that hit the city and killed two people.
Rockets hit the city again a few days later, but no one was killed. The Israel Project visited the city a day after the rockets hit Beersheba for the second time in a week. The situation rendered the city a virtual ghost town; among those who were outside, the mood was tense and somber. Unlike cities such as Sderot, next to Gaza, where residents have grown accustomed to life under fire, dozens of those approached refused to speak about suddenly living under fire.
Among those who did talk about it was new mother Jessica Bernath, a 29-year-old bookstore manager. Bernath said hearing rocket warning alarms means scrambling to find a place to take cover with her husband and protect her 7-month-old baby, Hagar. “I didn’t imagine this would happen here in Beersheba,” Bernath said as she stood outside her home with her infant. When she returns to work this week and sends her child to daycare for the first time, she said she wonders, “Who will they take first?”
Yotam Navon, third-year student at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev said the rocket attacks have taken a significant mental toll on those living in the area. Each time a rocket warning siren sounds, he said, people scatter in a panic to shelters. “It’s psychological warfare,” said Navon, 29. “People are getting more injured from the psychological warfare than from the rockets.”
A Beersheba resident who gave his name only as Yossi, said he’s been through much worse than the recent rocket attacks. “I’m not afraid of anything. I’ve been through many wars and they (the terrorists) from the other side will never make me scared. I know that on other side (in Gaza) there are many children and old people who also are scared, but what can we do if some of them don’t want live in peace?”