Palestinians in Hebron cheer as Hamas rockets launched against civilians
There was a festive atmosphere in Hebron as Palestinians gathered on hillsides to watch Hamas rockets launched at civilian targets in Israel.
It's almost as if they're watching a fireworks display rather than attacks aimed at Israeli civilians.
West Bank Palestinians cheered on Saturday as Hamas militants fired the largest salvo of rockets yet on the Tel Aviv area since the start of the recent escalations.
Hamas claimed responsibility for 10 rockets that were launched at Tel Aviv on Saturday but which caused no casualties or damage.
Sirens sounded across central Israel as people rushed for cover from the rockets. One group of youths sitting at the beach cheered as they saw a rocket intercepted in the night sky. In Gaza, Palestinians stood at rooftops chanting Allah Akbar (God is great), cries that also echoed over mosque loudspeakers.
The Iron Dome defense system intercepted three of the rockets over greater Tel Aviv and another struck an open area.
Hamas had broadcast a televised statement an hour before the salvo to say it was preparing a major attack on Tel Aviv. The Israeli military said it bombed the rocket launcher used for the salvo.
Minutes before the salvo launched, Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron gathered at a lookout point. When what appeared to be rockets streaked across the night sky, they chanted and cheered.
"Today we have come to see the rockets hitting our cities occupied since 1948 and to see these moments of dignity and pride carried out by the resistance in Gaza," said one resident. "I invite everyone to come and watch the rockets, in order to confirm that the Palestinians are not weak, the Palestinians are strong. But because of the betrayals, and all that has happened in the past, now we are opening a new page for the resistance and Hebron will be the spark," said another.
Later on Saturday night, the IAF struck the home in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza which contained a launcher used in the attack on the metropolitan Tel Aviv area.
Iron Dome, the Israeli designed and built missile defense systrem, has been performing well above expectations during Operation Protective Edge. The IDF claims a 90% success rate. The system does not target all rockets - only those that pose a threat to population centers.
It appears that the army has now initiated some kind of ground assault, the size and scope of which is unknown at this point. The campaign has entered a new phase with the Israeli government not giving any indication that they wish to halt hostilities any time soon.