Israeli warplanes, self-propelled artillery and short-range missiles attacked Hamas and Jihad Islami positions and command posts in the Gaza Strip early Monday, Oct. 8, shortly after Palestinians loosed a barrage of 55 missiles and mortar shells on the Eshkol district.
Both terrorist organizations claimed they were responsible for the barrage, which caused no casualties only heavy damage to property. Israelis living within range of the Gaza Strip are warned to stay 15 seconds away from protected shelters.
Casualties from the Israeli reprisal are reported in the Gaza Strip.
DEBKAfile: Israel’s response was major because for the first time the two dominant organizations in Gaza, the radical Hamas and Iran-sponsored Jihad Islami, assumed responsibility for avenging an an Israeli attack on radical Salafist terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda. This attests to the comprehensive ties of operational collaboration forged between the diverse terrorist organizations fighting Israel from the Gaza Strip.
Sunday, Oct. 7, a targeted Israeli air strike critically injured two motorcyclists, members of al Qaeda-linked groups in the Rafah district of southern Gaza. Palestinian sources reported 11 people injured including five children.
Israel also suspects that the pilotless helicopter sent by Iran to breach Israeli air space Saturday, Oct. 6, which flew in from the Mediterranean over the Gaza Strip, was jointly orchestrated by Tehran, Hizballah and Hamas as part of a war exercise Hamas conducted in the Gaza Strip on that day.
Abu Obeida, commander of the Hamas military arm Ezz e-din al-Qassam responded to the Israeli assault with a warning: “The resistance” would not permit “Israeli aggression” continue, he said, and went on to laud Hamas’ partnership with Jihad Islami and the high level of operational cooperation between the various parts of the movement. Any more Israeli attacks, he warned, would bring forth an even more powerful and extensive Palestinian reprisal.
DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that Hamas draws its bravado from the military protocols its leaders secretly signed with Hizballah Sept. 13 under the Iranian aegis, which obliges signatory to come to the aid of the other when it is attacked. Jihad Islami, Iran’s Palestinian surrogate in the Gaza Strip comes under this umbrella too. The signing was first disclosed on this page on Sept. 23. Confirming this, JIhad Islami spokesmen have just threatened that the next round of attacks on Israel will come from Lebanon. source – DEBKA