JERUSALEM – Escalating tension along the Israel-Gaza border contributed to today’s attack when on Saturday Palestinian militants in Gaza fired more than 50 mortar shells from Gaza into southern Israel. The attack was considered to be the heaviest attack in two years.
The Israeli military responded to the unusually intense barrage with tank and helicopter fire. Gaza officials reported that five Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire directed at a Hamas security facility east of Gaza City, including three security officers and two civilians, one of them a child.
Saturday’s escalation brings into question whether the Hamas military wing opposes the tentative moves toward unity by the local political leadership in Gaza.
“The primary goal is to destroy Israel,” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said. After Saturdays attack, Lieberman said he will file a complaint at the U.N.
"Israel and Jerusalem are relatively very safe recently," Barkat told CNN. "This is something that happens rarely, and we hope to keep it that way hoping that security forces will find the people responsible and “bring them to justice.”
Yonatan Yagadovsky, a spokesman for Israel’s emergency services said this kind of attack hasn’t happened for a “very, very long time,” saying the attack “brings very bad memories to us.”
Yagadovsky said it looks like today’s bombing is something Israel will have to “deal with again.”
Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat has condemned what he called a “cowardly terrorist attack” saying innocent people have been hurt. Barkat confirmed that three or four are in critical condition and the rest of the casualties reported as moderate. Also injured in the blast Barkat said are two pregnant women.
Image Source: Wikipedia - Nir Barkat, mayor of Jerusalem