Early on Saturday, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip launched numerous rockets toward Israel, triggering air raid sirens across the country and escalating the potential for a fresh bout of intense conflict.
The whooshing of outgoing rockets piercing the air was audible in Gaza, and sirens blared as far north as Tel Aviv, approximately 70 kilometers away, during an early morning onslaught that extended for more than 30 minutes. In southern Israel, a rocket striking a building resulted in critical injuries to a 70-year-old woman, while elsewhere, a 20-year-old man sustained moderate injuries from rocket shrapnel, according to Israel’s Magen David Adom rescue agency.
Israel had not issued an immediate response, but it typically carries out airstrikes in retaliation for rocket attacks, which heightens the likelihood of broader hostilities. While no group claimed responsibility for the rocket barrage, Israel customarily holds the ruling Hamas militant group accountable for any projectile launches from the region.
These rocket launches followed weeks of escalating tensions along Israel’s volatile border with Gaza, as well as intense confrontations in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Since Hamas, an Islamic militant organization hostile to Israel, seized control of the territory in 2007, Israel has maintained a blockade over Gaza. Over the years, these adversaries have engaged in four full-scale wars, as well as multiple smaller clashes involving Israel, Hamas, and other minor militant groups based in Gaza.
This blockade, which restricts the flow of people and goods in and out of Gaza, has inflicted significant damage on the territory’s economy. Israel argues that the blockade is essential to prevent militant groups from amassing weaponry, while the Palestinian perspective is that it constitutes collective punishment.
The rocket fire coincides with a period of intense conflict in the West Bank, where Israeli military operations have resulted in the deaths of nearly 200 Palestinians this year. Israel contends that these raids target militants, but they have also resulted in casualties among stone-throwing protesters and individuals uninvolved in the violence. Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets have claimed the lives of more than 30 individuals.
These tensions have also extended to Gaza, where activists linked to Hamas engaged in violent demonstrations along the Israeli border in recent weeks. These demonstrations ceased in late September following international mediation efforts.