UPDATE 7:00 am Israel time Tuesday:
14 Qassam missiles have been launched against southern Israel in the last 72 hours by terrorists in Gaza. At 12:10 am last night, explosions were reported in Ashkelon with no advance warning from sirens.
The IDF response to these rocket attacks has been, as usual, to bomb empty buildings in Gaza overnight.
You may recall that in yesterday’s blog, your humble servant reported an unusual and cryptic piece of information. Specifically, I mentioned that the group that claimed responsibility for the volley of rockets fired at Sderot on Sunday morning was the Salafist Palestinian al-Qaeda terrorist group Jamiat ul-Mujahedin Bayt al-Maqdis (I will shorten this to “Jamiat”)– a group with connections to Hamas.
Jamiat is an extremely well-organized and financed terrorist group operating out of the Sinai and Gaza under the direction of Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) based in Yemen. Its 1600 members (consisting of Palestinians and “foreign” fighters) are commanded by an Egyptian Hisham Saydani, whose Al-Qaeda name is Abu al-Walid al-Maqdisi.* Saydani had been in a Hamas prison in Gaza until two weeks ago when he was inexplicably released (the reasons behind his arrest in March and release are unknown).
Apparently Jamiat was recently ordered by AQAP to increase its attacks on targets in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt and Israel.
Thus, upon being released by Hamas, Saydani immediately set up the “operation” against the Rafah and Kerem Shalom Crossings on August 5th–that resulted in the deaths of the Egyptian border guards and the deep infiltration into Israel.
On August 17th, Jamiat also claimed credit for the Grad missile attack on Eilat. Again, Jamiat took responsibility for the Qassam attacks on Sderot yesterday.
According to one source (the Debka news agency), Jamiat is threatening to continue its attacks on Israeli cities if the Egyptians do not cease their attempt to round up Jamiat in the Sinai. According to other sources, Jamiat would like nothing better than to initiate hostilities between Israel and Egypt, Egypt and Hamas, and Hamas and Israel.
Two days ago on Sunday, Saudi Arabia announced that it had captured two AQAP cells which were targeting Riyadh and Jeddah. The cells had possession of chemical weapons and explosives.
It seems that while Israel has been extremely concerned about chemical weapons in Syria, Al-Qaeda may have slipped them into the Sinai. How long will it be until one of the missiles that strikes Sderot, Sha’ar Hanegev, Beersheva, or Ashkelon is tipped with chemical explosives?
*(Your humble servant credits Debka for the main information in today’s blog as well as Yediot Aharonot, and Reuters).
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