An unnamed high-ranking Israeli official told reporters from the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahranoth on Sunday that the longer-range shells that have been fired by Palestinian resistance factions toward Tel Aviv and Jerusalem lack and explosive capacity and are â€śbasically pipesâ€ť.According to the official, the shells were stripped of explosive capacity in order to increase their range and thus trigger air-raid alarms in a wider area. The unnamed source is quoted by the paper as saying, ‘Our assessment is that the prestige of setting off alarms deep in Israel, and being perceived as fighting on, is as important to them now as spilling our blood.â€ť
The shells that hit near Tel Aviv caused no damage or injuries, but are the first to hit that area since Saddam Hussein fired Scud missiles at Tel Aviv during the first Gulf War in 1991.
Jerusalem has not been a target since the 1972 war between Israel and Arab states. Israeli officials say they will not publicize the locations of where the shells hit, because the Palestinian resistance fighters have very low-tech aiming capability and have in the past used media reports of where their shells hit to figure out how to aim their next shell.
In the last five days of the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, Israeli military spokespersons claim that over 500 Palestinian homemade shells have been fired into Israel, with one of the shells killing three Israeli civilians. In contrast, the Israeli military has dropped over 1,100 much more potent missiles into Gaza in the same time period, killing 81 Palestinians and wounding over 700, many of them severely.
Among those killed in Gaza by Israeli strikes were 7 babies under the age of two, and another 8 children under the age of ten. On Sunday, the most intense day of Israeli airstrikes, 10 members of the same family were killed, including 4 children between the ages on 1 and 10 years old.
In the West Bank on Sunday, Israeli forces killed a one year old baby who was asleep in his bed near the site of a non-violent demonstration against the attacks in Gaza. Of the 81 Palestinians killed since Wednesday, only 10 were combatants, all the rest were civilians.
Israeli officials claim that the ‘Iron Dome’ missile defense system has intercepted over half of the homemade shells fired by Palestinian resistance factions from the Gaza Strip. On Sunday evening, Israeli officials reported that a house was damaged in the town of Beer Tuvia, but no one was in the house when it was hit because the residents had gone to an air raid shelter.
In Gaza, there are no air raid sirens or shelters, and the only warning that residents have that a strike is coming is the sound of warplanes overhead. Many residents have intermittent electricity due to the Israeli refusal to allow the power plant they destroyed four years ago to be properly rebuilt and re-equipped, so most families remain in their homes in the dark throughout the nights of airstrikes.