So Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian to execute the Lord’s vengeance on Midian. Numbers 31:3 (The Israel Bible™)
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) was accused of launching a long-range rocket from northern Gaza at Israel on Monday evening, in an attempt at provoking a heavy response from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Israel’s Army confirmed the launch Tuesday – which landed in the sea off the country’s southwestern coastline – and was “deliberately” intended to destabilize the fragile ceasefire agreement.
This is Bahaa Abu-Ala’ta, the #Gaza Commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Last night, his operatives fired a rocket at #Israel to bring about an escalation. Thankfully, the rocket landed in the sea.
The IDF remains ready and committed to defend Israel against such terror. pic.twitter.com/rLD27pK8CG
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) April 30, 2019
The IDF said that the Iran-backed Palestinian militant group had intended to hit land, but that the rocket missed its target and landed in the Mediterranean sea.
Israel’s reaction to the provocative launch was to limit the Palestinian fishing zone off the coast of Gaza from 15 kilometers to just 6.
As with so many aggressive acts that occur in the region, this attempted strike did not simply appear in a vacuum. Some assessments have argued that Iran – as it usually does – chose to use one of its proxies to do its bidding; this time in response to the United States’ imposition of increasingly severe trade and economic sanctions.
According to DEBKAfile, the message of the rocket launch was clear. Israel has two main ports – Ashdod along the country’s southwestern coast and Haifa along its northwestern coast – both of which have hosted United States ships and this most recent missile launch emphasizes that both are in range of Iranian proxies: PIJ in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. It should also be noted that Iran has mooted closing the Straits of Hormuz – through which approximately one-fifth of the world’s oil is moved daily – as a direct response to the U.S. sanctions.
Despite working toward the same end – i.e. the destruction of Israel – Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas do not – despite sharing a command center in Gaza – have entirely aligned aims, including the former apparently working to undermine the ceasefire.
“Israel and the US Mediterranean fleet are clearly in Tehran’s sights, especially since last Wednesday, April 24, when the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier and its strike group of 10 warships took up position opposite the Syrian coast. Monday’s rocket may be the harbinger of further ‘events’ centering on the Mediterranean shores of Israel, Lebanon and Syria,” according to DEBKAfile.