Rockets fired from the Gaza strip hit the Israeli community of Sderot yesterday. No one was injured, but the entire community of 24,000-plus people scrambled to bomb shelters. It was a visceral reminder of daily trauma the city endured for three months in 2014 when Hamas, the terrorist organization that governs Gaza, peppered the nearby town with rockets. In 2014 alone, 96 of them hit the community. Sderot is less than 2 miles from Gaza's northeast border.
Yesterday's rockets, however, were not fired by Hamas. The missiles were fired by an Islamist faction in Gaza called Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis. Co-opted by ISIS just over a year ago in Syria, the group today is the face of ISIS inside Gaza.
Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis took credit for yesterday's attack on the Jewish State. Notably, no Israeli official or organization has contested the claim. Instead, Israel's military, the IDF, has responded with an extensive campaign of targeted bombing counter-attacks. The goal of these attacks, says the IDF, is to hit Hamas's "terrorist infrastructure."
Neither military or government officials in Israel have uttered a public word about ISIS. Still, there are hints that yesterday's rockets launched by al-Maqdis were a response to secret Israeli airstrikes against ISIS, probably in the Sinai Peninsula.
THE FIRST HINT is the IDFs statement about its military response also to the rocket attack:
The Hamas terror organization is the sovereign power in the Gaza Strip and it is therefore responsible for all terror activities emanating from it.
The wording indicates acknowledgment that Hamas itself did not fire the rockets. Instead, it seems to be an indirect acceptance of the claim by the ISIS proxy group, Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis.
THE SECOND HINT came from Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu last Wednesday, 17 August, when Israel's military elite jointed him for an unexplained "visit" to its Air Force Base at Tel Nof east of Tel Aviv. According to DEBKAfile, questions about reasons for the visit remain unanswered. 'Military and intelligence are constrained from elaborating," the news service reports.
THE THIRD HINT is in remarks that Netanyahu made at the Tel Nof base. According to the Prime Minister's official website, his words included these two sentences:
"There is no air force better than ours. When I send it to carry out its missions, it goes anywhere, anytime, on any mission and this is true even as we speak." (emphasis added)
Apparently, an Israeli Air Force mission was underway.
Careful not to violate a possible order by the State to refrain from publishing explanations provided by officials, DEBKA's conclusion is an "inference."
Rockets fired into Israel yesterday might be "the first rejoinder to the mission that was the subject of the Prime Minister's oblique reference."
While the nature of Israel's unknown mission last week is apparently classified, Israel's interpretation of the yesterday's attack from Gaza apparently is not.
"DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the ISIS Sinai branch chose the afternoon to shoot its rocket as a demonstration of its ability to strike at the heart of Israeli towns at any time of day when there are people on the streets."
If, in fact, ISIS ordered yesterday's rocket launches into Israel, it means that Israel's retaliation against Hamas might be meaningless. Although Hamas is known to be in league with ISIS endeavors in Sinai, Egypt and Libya, "the Palestinian group has no role in ISIS decisions to attack Israel or any influence over its considerations."
Accordingly, says DEBKA, ISIS can "be expected to follow up on their rocket attack, ...undeterred by the IDF response."