Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired on Jerusalem today–a “game-changer” in the battle between Hamas and Israel. The death toll since Wednesday stands at 28 Palestinians and three Israelis, according to AP: the heaviest fire the region’s seen in four years.
A rocket fired Friday by Palestinian militants in the Gaza strip landed in a field near a collection of Jewish settlements outside Jerusalem. No casualties were reported. NBC’s Martin Fletcher, on Andrea Mitchell Reports Friday said that the more than sixty-mile separation between the Gaza Strip and Israel’s capital city had been considered beyond the reach of Palestinian weaponry. It was the first strike near the city since 1970. Missiles from Gaza have also reached the suburbs of Tel Aviv this week.
“Israel is taking all means necessary to defend our citizens against this aggression,” Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told Andrea Mitchell Reports yesterday. “Nobody wants a ground operation and we are going to try to avoid that.”
The Israeli military has mobilized 16,000 reservists and closed three roads leading to Gaza, a signal that a ground invasion may be on the horizon.
“We need to recognize that rockets in both directions is part of the problem. There’s no parity between both sides here” Yousef Munayyer of the Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center told Andrea Mitchell Reports Friday. “We’re talking about one of the largest, most powerful militaries in the world–the Israeli military–acting out against a largely civilian Palestinian population, which they’ve worked to dispossess and colonize for centuries who are now acting out in frustration.”
Fighting re-emerged in the region after Israel killed the military commander of Hamas, Ahmed al-Jabari, in an airstrike on Wednesday.
“Al-Jabari was responsible for dozens of terrorist attacks,” Oren told Andrea Mitchell Reports on Thursday. “He had the blood of many dozens of Israelis on his hands. Among his more infamous acts was the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was held in captivity for five years…[Al-Jabari] was the military commander of Hamas in the Gaza strip and as a result, he was responsible. He bore the responsibility for these thousands of rocket attacks against our civilians.”
NBC’s Richard Engel and Ayman Mohyeldin in Gaza reported that Hamas field commander Ahmed Abu Jalal was killed in an Israeli air strike on Gaza today along with two brothers and a neighbor.