After firing over 400 rockets at civilian centers in Israel over Tuesday and Wednesday, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) called for a ceasefire on Thursday morning.  Mainstream media declared the ceasefire to be holding despite volleys of rockets being fired at Israel at 7:00 AM, then around 11:00 AM, close to 5:00 PM, and once more at 10:00 PM. After the rocket attack at 10:00 PM, no more sirens were heard in southern Israel that night.

PIJ spokesman Musab al-Buraim said early on Thursday that it had agreed to a ceasefire brokered by Egypt after Israel was “forced to accept the conditions set by the Palestinian resistance”.

The IDF reported that at around 1:00 AM, IAF air assets successfully attacked a military compound in Gaza that was used to manufacture rocket components, The IAF also conducted a strike against the headquarters of the Khan Yunis Brigade of the Islamic Jihad. IDF Spokesman Brig Gen Hidai Zilberman said its operation in Gaza, dubbed “Black Belt”, had achieved all of its objectives.

34 Palestinians have been killed so far in the IDF response to PIJ rocket attacks and 111 injured in total, while 63 Israelis were wounded in Islamic Jihad rocket attacks. The IDF said 25 of the Palestinian fatalities were known terrorists.

Gazan officials blamed Israel for the death of Abu Malhous and his family in an airstrike that targeted his home in central Gaza. The IDF identified Malhous as a commander of a PIJ rocket-launching unit.

“He was an Islamic Jihad commander and he, like many others, had the tactic of hiding ammunition and military infrastructure in their own residence,” spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus told AFP news agency. “Of course we try always to minimize the number of non-combatants killed or injured.”

In a similar incident, Amnesty International accused the IDF of violating international law for bombing the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights building in Gaza. Fox News foreign correspondent Trey Yingst reporting from Gaza refuted this accusation. Yingst witnessed the event.

Israeli schools and businesses that had been closed due to the rocket attacks remained closed on Friday but all land crossings between Gaza and Israel were reopened. The IDF allowed Palestinian fishermen to work up to 15 nautical miles from the shore.

The real test of the alleged ceasefire will come on Friday. For over one year, weekly Hamas-led riots on the southern border have pitted Gazan civilians against IDF troops tasked with protecting Israeli citizens. Hamas fighters frequently use the civilians as cover for attempts to infiltrate and commit acts of terrorism. The riots are also cover for terrorists who launch aerial incendiary and explosive devices. Debka Filean Israeli military intelligence website, reported that the IDF is preparing to counter attempts by the PIJ to continue the rocket attacks during the riots.

“The Islamic Jihad is expected to exploit the next Friday disturbance as cover for lethal attacks on Israeli troops or a civilian target, after 430 rockets fired in a 48-hour blitz failed to cause a single Israeli death,” Debka wrote. “The group is also capable of claiming that Israel had violated the truce terms at the event as a pretext for resuming its rocket attacks. This pessimistic forecast rests on past experience of Gaza ceasefires. Islamic Jihad is wont to stage violent finales in order to claim it had the last word (or shot) in a conflict with Israel. Therefore, if the truce holds up until Friday afternoon, its fate will be determined then. IDF concentrations therefore remain massed on the Gaza border along with heavy military hardware.”

Source: Israel in the News