Palestinian sources in Gaza said Hamas’s internal security forces arrested the terror cell responsible for firing rockets at southern Israel Monday and Tuesday, reports The Times of Israel.
The identity of the group is as yet unknown. However, it apparently belonged to an extremist faction that split from Hamas because it deemed the Gaza-ruling terror organization not radical enough.
There has been a stream of missile attacks from Gaza in recent days amid tensions over the kidnapping of three Israeli teens in the West Bank and the ensuing Israeli military operation to recover them. Israeli security operations to find the abducted boys have focused on Hamas in the West Bank. Hamas in Gaza is believed to bracing for more severe Israeli countermeasures. The Hamas arrest of those who fired the rockets may be part of an effort to forestall Israeli actions.
Israeli military officials say 20 to 30 rockets have been fired at Israel in the last two weeks. It is not clear how many of those were fired by Hamas and how many by the even more radical splinter group.
At least five rockets were launched from Gaza towards Israel on Tuesday night. One rocket exploded in Israel’s western Negev region. There were no injuries but there was minor damage. Two more rockets were intercepted by Iron Dome batteries over Ashkelon and another two landed in the Gaza Strip, killing a Palestinian toddler and injuring three Palestinians, including two children.
Israel has responded to the rocket strikes with late-night air raids over Gaza.
Despite the arrests, Hamas senior official Mahmoud al-Zahar struck a combative tone, warning Tuesday that Hamas’s rockets and missiles have the capability of striking any city in Israel.
He added that the terror organization’s missile arsenal has improved significantly and that it is working day and night to dig new tunnels and upgrade its resistance capabilities.