Another round of escalation after Palestinian terrorists fire an anti-tank missile at an IDF vehicle, wounding four soldiers *

Issued on: 11/11/2012 Type: Article

IDF Jeep Attacked by Rocket Fire

1. On the evening of November 10, 2012, Palestinian terrorist operatives fired a Kornet anti-tank missile at an IDF jeep engaged in routine counterterrorism activities near the security fence in the central Gaza Strip. The missile set the jeep on fire and wounded four IDF soldiers, two seriously, and two incurred minor wounds (IDF Spokesman, November 10, 2012). The military-terrorist wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility for the attack (PFLP's military-terrorist wing's website, November 10, 2012). The attack marked the beginning of a new round of escalation in rocket and mortar shell fire from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, a little more than two weeks after the previous round. The current round has not yet ended.

2. The Kornet (AT-14 Spriggan) is an advanced Russian-made anti-tank missile system with a SACLOS (semi-automatic command to line of sight) laser beam riding guidance system. Its intended targets are armored vehicles and carries a warhead which can penetrate reactive shielding Hezbollah used Kornet missiles to attack the IDF in the Second Lebanon War. In December 2010 the Commander in Chief of the IDF revealed that a Kornet had been fired from the Gaza Strip to attack an Israeli tank and had penetrated its armor. The Kornet has a diameter of 152mm and weighs 27 kilograms, or 59.4 lbs, and has a range of 100 to 5,000 meters, or up to 3.10 miles.

The Events on the Ground after the Missile Was Fired

3. IDF forces responded to the anti-tank missile attack on the jeep with tank fire, targeting the region in the Gaza Strip from which the missile had been fired. Other terrorist targets were also attacked. The Palestinian media reported that Israeli fire killed four Palestinians and wounded about 30. The Palestinian terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip responded with massive barrages of rocket and mortar shell fire targeting Israel's south. As of the afternoon of November 11, more than 50 rockets and mortar shells had been fired into Israeli territory. (Note: As of the morning of November 12, rocket fire continues.) A rocket fired at the southern city of Ashdod was intercepted and downed by the Iron Dome aerial defense system (IDF Spokesman, November 10, 2012). Another rocket was intercepted and downed in Beersheba, Israel's largest southern city. Three civilians were injured and property damage was incurred (Ynet, November 11, 2012). Hamas and other terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip claimed responsibility for the rocket fire.

4. In response to the rocket and mortar shell fire, the IDF and Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked a number of terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, among them squads of terrorist operatives preparing to fire rockets into Israeli territory. The Palestinian media reported several dead and wounded.

5. The anti-tank missile attack on the IDF jeep was another in a series of attacks carried out during the past two weeks which targeted IDF forces patrolling along the Gaza Strip border.

1) On November 8, 2012, an IDF force was attacked with an IED detonated inside a tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip. The force was looking for IEDs after the increase in the number of terrorist attacks during the preceding two weeks. The force found a number of IEDs at the site.  As the activity drew to a close there was a strong explosion in a booby-trapped tunnel running parallel to the security fence. The explosion exposed a tunnel about four meters, or 4.37 yards, deep and four meters wide. An IDF vehicle was thrown into the air by the explosion and damaged (IDF Spokesman, November 10, 2012). Hamas' military-terrorist wing claimed responsibility for the attack (Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website, November 8, 2012).

2) On October 23, 2012, an IDF officer was critically wounded during an operational activity near the security fence in the central Gaza Strip.

Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire from the Gaza Strip[1]

6. In response to the IDF fire on the anti-tank missile launchers, the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip initiated a massive barrage of rocket and mortar shell fire which targeted the cities and towns in Israel's south. More than 50 rockets and mortar shells were fired. The attacks began on November 10, and during the day 24 rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory. A rocket targeting the large southern Israeli city of Ashdod was intercepted and downed by the Iron Dome aerial defense system (IDF Spokesman, November 10, 2012).

7. On November 11 the rocket fire continued throughout the first part of the day, and there were more than 20 additional identified rocket hits. One of them fell a few meters from a car waiting at a traffic light. The driver was injured and evacuated to a hospital. In Sderot a couple on their way to work were also injured, suffering minor wounds. A factory near Sderot sustained a direct hit from another rocket (Ynet, November 11, 2012). Around noon the Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted and downed a rocket targeting Beersheba. (Note: The rocket fire continued throughout the day into the morning of November 12.)

Claiming Responsibility for Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire

8. Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and other Palestinian terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip claimed responsibility for the rocket fire:

1) On November 11 Hamas' military-terrorist wing issued a statement claiming collective responsibility for the rocket attacks, along with the military-terrorist wings of other Palestinian terrorist organizations. Among them were the Salah al-Din Brigades (the Popular Resistance Committees), the Mujahideen Battalions, the Defenders of Al-Aqsa Brigades and the Al-Ansar Brigades. According to the announcement, the rocket and mortar shell fire was in retaliation for the so-called "slaughter of Sajaiya" the previous day. According to the announcement, the Palestinian factions "stood united" against Israel and would continue to defend themselves [sic], fulfilling their "sacred duty" to "resist" Israel. Hamas' military-terrorist wing also posted a video of rocket fire; the video bore the logos of all the Palestinian terrorist organizations (Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website, November 11, 2012).

The video documenting rocket fire into Israel. At the right are the logos of the terrorist organizations involved (Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website, November 11, 2012).
The video documenting rocket fire into Israel. At the right are the logos of the terrorist organizations involved (Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website, November 11, 2012).

2) The Jerusalem Brigades, the military-terrorist wing of the PIJ, issued a statement claiming to have fired 88 rockets and mortar shells into Israeli territory on November 10-11 (The PIJ's PalToday website, November 11, 2012). According to the statement, "the Zionist crimes will not go unpunished," and the campaign had only begun and would continue (Jerusalem Brigades website, November 11, 2012).

IDF Response to the Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire

9. In response to the rocket and mortar shell fire the IDF and IAF aircraft attacked a number of terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip:

1) On November 11 IAF aircraft attacked a site for the manufacture of weapons, two sites for storing weapons and two sites for launching rockets in the northern Gaza Strip. Also attacked were a site for storing weapons in the southern Gaza Strip (IDF Spokesman, November 11, 2012). The Palestinian media reported that two operatives belonging to the PIJ's military-terrorist wing had been killed (Ma'an and Safa News Agencies, November 11, 2012).

2) On November 10 a terrorist squad in the northern Gaza Strip was attacked as it was about to fire rockets into Israeli territory. The Palestinian media reported the deaths of two PIJ terrorist operatives (Safa News Agency and the PIJ's PalToday website, November 10, 2012).

10. The Jerusalem Brigades, the PIJ's military-terrorist wing, issued obituary notices for the two terrorist operatives killed in the IAF strikes. They were Muhammad Fouad Ubeid, 20, from the Brigades' northern Gaza Strip artillery unit, killed on November 11; and Muhammad Sayid Shkoukani, 20, a senior member of the Jerusalem Brigades media unit, killed on November 10 in an IAF strike (Jerusalem Brigades website, November 11, 2012).

Remarks from Hamas

11. Various senior sources in Hamas blamed Israel for the escalation:

1) Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the escalation could not be passed over in silence and that it had to end. He said that "resistance to the occupation" [i.e., terrorism and violence] was legitimate. He said the Israeli government was fully responsible for the consequences of the escalation (Palestine-info website, November 10, 2012).

2) Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Israel would be responsible for the consequences of the injury done to Palestinian civilians and warned Israel not to continue the escalation.

3) Ihab al-Ghussein, head of Hamas' information office, said that the Israeli activity was a gross violation of international humanitarian law and that Israel was responsible for a large number of dead and wounded (Ihab al-Ghussein's Facebook page, November 10, 2012).

[*] The situation on the ground as of November 11, 2012.

[1] As of November 11, 1400 hours.

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