In recent days, the Palestinians have returned to launching rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israeli communities. On Dec. 11, Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted a long-range rocket that was fired toward the town of Ashkelon. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reacted with relative restraint and only shelled a few Hamas targets in Gaza to avoid being pulled into an armed skirmish. But the measured response did not achieve its goal. Only 24 hours later, another long-range rocket was fired at Ashkelon.
The firing of long-range rockets requires relatively complex deployments; it cannot be done in hiding, far from the eyes of Hamas’ security force. It is also doubtful that small Salafist organizations have the required technical abilities to launch these rockets. Instead, the chances are that Hamas’ military wing or Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades — groups that the IDF frequently labels “Hamas’ operational contractors” — are behind the rockets.