Rocket fired from Gaza at southern Israel
As unrest continues in the West Bank, a rocket from the Gaza Strip hit southern Israel early Tuesday morning, Israeli and Palestinian media report. The Grad rocket landed in south of Ashekelon and inflicted no injuries.
Although the rightwing daily Times of Israel reported that the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militia associated with Fatah, claimed responsibility for the attack, Ma’an News Agency says no political factions have come forward and taken credit for the rocket.
The rocket comes in the wake of, and appears to be in retaliation for, the death of 30-year-old prisoner Arafat Jaradat, which has sparked demonstrations across the already tense occupied West Bank, including a several thousand strong demonstration that was born from his funeral on Monday.
Palestinian officials and organizations say Jaradat’s autopsy proves he was tortured to death, noting that it showed he had several broken bones, bruises across his body, and injuries inside his lips. Contrary to the Israeli Prison Services claim that he died from cardiac arrest, Palestinian sources also say the autopsy disproves this explanation and bears no evidence typically associated with a heart attack.
For weeks, anger in the West Bank has been building as Israeli forces launched sweeping arrest campaigns, the plight of Palestinian hunger strikers in prison gained clout, and clashes between soldiers and protesters increased.
The rocket is the first since November 2012, when the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Egypt brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas after an eight-day Israeli military offensive that nearly resulted in the ground invasion of Gaza. Over 100 Palestinian civilians were killed, and at least five Israelis.
Mere days after the ceasefire, Palestinians were already claiming that Israel had violated its end of the bargain. Israeli forces have repeatedly fired on civilians, particularly farmers and manual laborers, near the Gaza-Israel border. In other instances, tanks have breached the narrow coastal enclave, and fishermen have been attacked or arrested by Israel’s navy.
According to a recent Al-Jazeera infographic, 4 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli military since the ceasefire went into effect, and another 91 were injured. There have been 63 shooting attacks, 13 army incursions, and 30 naval attacks on Gazan fishermen. Before Tuesday, only two mortar shells and zero rockets had been fired on Israel from Gaza.
Unrest is expected to spread as popular resentment grows on the Palestinian street. The Netanyahu administration has called on the Palestinian Authority government to “calm” the territories and assert control over demonstrators. Protests have recently been staged in Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, and at Ofer Military Prison.
Over the weekend, a Hamas official called for a Third Intifada to break out in support of Palestinian prisoners, and said that resistance fighters ought to emulate previous tactics and kidnap more Israeli soldiers.