Sirens sounded in Sderot and other settlements close to Israel's border with the Gaza Strip last night. An IDF spokesperson confirmed that one rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip, and was intercepted by the Iron Dome system. The rocket fire came after several hours of relative quiet in the area. There have been no reports of casualties or damage.
A second rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip about an hour after the first, and sirens sounded at Kibbutz Nirim. An IDF spokesperson reported that the rocket fell close to the border. Close to midnight, the IDF reported a failed attempt to launch a rocket from the Gaza Strip.
About 700 Palestinians have been demonstrating at several points along the border fence around the Gaza Strip, setting tires alight and throwing stones. According to IDF sources, the demonstrations are being organized. The previous night, 36 rockets were fired at southern Israel, and in response the Israel Air Force attacked Hamas underground infrastructure and rocket launchers. The rocket fire on Friday night was the most intense in recent weeks, during which rockets have been fired from time to time from the Gaza Strip towards the border area. Israel did not respond militarily to last night's rocket fire.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a situation assessment at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv with Minister of Defense Benny Gantz, Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman, National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat, and other senior security people. Netanyahu said that Israel was ready for any eventuality versus the Gaza Strip, and called for calm.
Senior Israeli sources said after the meeting that Israel wanted to calm the situation in the Gaza Strip and avoid further escalation. They said that in the previous twenty-four hours Israel had conveyed messages both to the Palestinians and to Jordan to the effect that Israel sought to calm the situation in Jerusalem as well. Violent clashes have taken place there for several days between East Jerusalem Arabs, Jews, and security forces. Israel made clear that it had no intention of harming Muslims' freedom of worship in the city, especially during the month of Ramadan. Israel's security establishment believes that the reason for the flare-up in the south lies in events in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount.
The IDF has sent reinforcements to the Gaza Strip border area and the Israel Air Force has been placed on alert. Chief of Staff Kochavi has cancelled a planned trip to Washington.
This morning, the IDF instructed residents of the Gaza Strip border area to stay close to shelters, halt agricultural work next to the border fence, close schools, and close the Zikim beach. The restrictions were removed after less than an hour.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on April 25, 2021
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