By D. Bender
Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip on Monday fired a major barrage of 10 test rockets out to sea from the ruins of a former Israeli village in the evacuated Gush Katif area, apparently in order to test range and accuracy, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported.
It was unclear whether Hamas personnel or members of another group actually carried out the test firing, according to the report.
While such experiments have been increasingly common since last summer’s Operation Protective Edge – itself meant to thwart such fire aimed at Israel – the latest volley is the greatest number fired in one salvo.
Due to a tight IDF naval blockade on the coastal enclave, and Egyptian destruction of smuggling tunnels from Sinai, Palestinian terror groups are unable to smuggle in sufficient rocket supplies, and so produce their own explosives, which may also account for the numerous tests.
About a month ago, a red alert was sounded in several towns in the western Negev bordering Gaza, when a rocket fired from Gaza exploded near a regional council, although the projectile caused no physical casualties or damage.
The IDF, from land, sea, and air, contends that it can keep close electronic and visual tabs on the new tests and immediately detect any shooting carried out by the terror organization.
“We’re aware of Hamas’ training, and the tests they perform with various rockets,” according to an official who spoke with Channel 2.
In early December, army sources said Hamas had aggressively increased its rocket and mortar firing tests into the Mediterranean Sea, in preparation for more fighting with Israel.
“We follow every movement of Hamas. The organization is trying to rebuild its status and condition after getting hit hard during Protective Edge,” a military source said at the time.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has said that the army and air force destroyed some 80 percent of Hamas’ arsenal of long-range M-75, mid-range Grad, and short-range Kassam rockets and mortars in the 51-day conflict.
However, area council chief Haim Yellin slammed what he viewed as the government’s lax conduct in response to such test flights.
“Anyone who thought the IDF’s deterrence over the ‘Gaza envelope’ was a recipe for quiet, does not understand that wars are not decided by politicians, but rather by the courage to bring peace and security,” Yellin said.
“After Protective Edge, the State had an extraordinary opportunity to bring about a long-term arrangement,” he added. “Instead, we find ourselves with the clock ticking towards escalation and the next war.”