TEL AVIV – Ahead of what is expected to be an eventful but tense May, the IDF on Tuesday deployed the Iron Dome missile defense system throughout the country after a rocket was launched from Gaza the previous night.
The military blamed the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad for the rocket, which landed in the sea.
The next few weeks are shaping up to be a tense time for Israel, and will include the highly anticipated Eurovision song contest in Tel Aviv, Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers followed by Independence Day celebrations, the Palestinians’ “Naqba” day and the first anniversary of the hotly contested opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. May 5 also marks the start of the Muslim month of Ramadan, which has in the past brought with it heightened tensions and more terror attacks.
Israel responded to the rocket attack by reducing the fishing zone around the Gaza Strip to six nautical miles — walking back a move that was made under an unofficial ceasefire agreement last month that saw the zone extended to 15 nautical miles.
Palestinians in Gaza retaliated by launching more than 200 airborne incendiary devices over the border on Tuesday and Wednesday, sparking fires in southern Israel.
Monday night’s rocket was “intentionally fired” by the PIJ, IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis said.
He added that Baha Abu al-Ata, an Islamic Jihad commander of northern Gaza, gave the order to fire the rocket. Al-Ata received the order directly from the group’s leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah in Damascus, Manelis added.
PIJ is hoping to thwart the ceasefire efforts by carrying out low-level attacks, the army stated.
“There are dozens of countries around the world which are trying to improve the humanitarian situation in the Strip but and at the same time there is one man inside Gaza and one man outside the Strip which is trying to torpedo that,” said Manelis.
The PIJ are the second largest terror group in the Gaza Strip.