TEL AVIV – The IDF released additional information on the more than 65 sites it targeted in the Gaza Strip in response to the 100 rockets and mortars launched from terrorist groups there, saying the targets included weapons manufacturing facilities and a stash of unmanned submarines that Hamas was preparing to use for attacks on Israeli naval targets and underwater infrastructure.
“The IDF strike damaged the immediate stockpile of weapons available to the terror organization and also affected the financial investment required to develop weapons in the future. The strike of these terror sites is a significant blow to Hamas’ military buildup capabilities,” a statement by the military said.
More than 100 mortars and rockets were launched at Israel from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist groups in Gaza. Most of the rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system but several landed, including one in a kindergarten shortly before children were expected to arrive and another that caused damage to a home in which a family slept. Three soldiers and one civilian sustained light to moderate injuries from exploding rockets, the army said.
The barrage prompted Tuesday’s airstrikes by the army at dozens of terror targets all over the Strip.
In addition to striking an attack tunnel and a weapons factory, the military also hit Hamas and Islamic Jihad naval forces, among them “advanced unmanned submarine vessels, capable of maritime infiltration and carrying out maritime terror attacks.”
This was the first acknowledgement by the IDF that Hamas is in possession of underwater remote-controlled drones.
“We struck many valuable targets, important targets that we’ve waited a long time for an opportunity [to strike]. I think at this point, there’s a significant achievement for us,” the IDF’s Southern Command Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir told officers on Wednesday.
“I think Hamas and the other terror groups in the Gaza Strip are very deeply deterred, and there is a lack of will and desire to reach a situation of another full-scale campaign,” Zamir said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said the airforce delivered the “harshest blow” in years to Gaza terrorist groups.
“Since yesterday the IDF has strongly retaliated against the firing from the Gaza Strip and has hit dozens of terrorist targets in the harshest blow we have dealt them in years,” Netanyahu said.
“The Hamas regime, Islamic Jihad and the other terrorist organizations, inspired by Iran, are responsible for the escalation,” the prime minister said. “I will not detail our plans because I do not want the enemy to know what to expect. But one thing is clear: When they test us, they pay immediately. And if they continue testing us, they will pay dearly.”
On Wednesday, the IDF also said that several of the mortars and rockets were Iranian made.