Israel began 2024 under a heavy barrage of rocket fire from Gaza as the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant groups stretched into its 12th week. Over 20 rockets were fired at Israel in a midnight attack by Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza.
Barrage Targets Major Cities in Israel
The barrage targeted major cities across Israel, including Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Netivot, and Sderot. Air raid sirens rang out just after midnight, jolting Israelis who had hoped 2023’s violence would come to an end with the new year (Times of Israel).
According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), over 15 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system. There were no reports of injuries, though some rockets did strike buildings and cars, causing property damage.
The attack appeared to be an attempt by Hamas to undermine any sense of normalcy as Israelis welcomed 2024 after a difficult 2023. Over 4500 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza since fighting erupted in mid-October last year (Times of Israel).
Israel Vows Strong Response as Gaza Fighting Drags On
In response to the latest rocket attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised further action against Hamas and other Gaza militant groups.
“We will respond strongly to this wanton aggression,” Netanyahu tweeted. “We will continue to take all necessary measures to defend our people.”
The Israeli military has been pounding Gaza with airstrikes for months in an attempt to degrade militant capabilities to launch rockets. However, unnamed military officials admitted ending rocket fire from Gaza is unlikely at this point (Middle East Monitor).
This indicates the conflict between the two sides could continue to drag on, despite international efforts to broker a ceasefire.
|Rocket Attacks on Israel
|Israeli Airstrikes on Gaza
|Week 1 (Oct 15-21)
|Week 4 (Nov 5-11
|Week 12 (Dec 31-Jan 1)
The table above shows rocket attacks and Israeli airstrikes in the 1st, 4th, and 12th weeks of fighting. Rocket attacks are down from their peak but still continue on a near daily basis.
Gazans Hope for Peaceful 2024 Amid Conflict
The people of Gaza welcomed 2024 hoping the new year might finally bring an end to months of devastating conflict. Over 250 Gazans have been killed in the violence, including dozens of children. Parts of Gaza have been reduced to rubble by Israeli airstrikes (Arab News).
“We are exhausted from the bombings, rockets, and funerals,” said Ahmed al-Danaf, a resident of Gaza City. “All we want is to live in peace and rebuild our lives.”
Many Gazans expressed anger at Hamas over the militant group’s decision to launch rockets at the start of 2024.
“Hamas does not care about our suffering,” said 12-year old Fatima Hassoun whose family home was destroyed in an airstrike last month. “I just want the rockets to stop.”
International Community Renews Calls for Ceasefire
As the crisis raged into 2024, members of the international community renewed calls for an immediate ceasefire between the two sides.
Egypt and Qatar have been trying to mediate an end to hostilities for months but their efforts have so far come up short. The violence has overshadowed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s attempts to repair relations between Israel and the Palestinians.
In a statement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “gravely concerned” over renewed rocket attacks and airstrikes and urged leaders to “step back from the brink.”
However, with both Israel and Hamas vowing to continue fighting, the prospects for a political solution appear dim. The conflict threatens to spark wider regional unrest as tensions grow.
Israel beginning 2024 under rocket fire from Gaza signals that an end to the current crisis is nowhere in sight. The midnight rocket barrage shows Hamas remains capable and determined to strike Israeli population centers. Meanwhile, Israel insists its airstrikes on Gaza will continue as long as militant groups keep launching attacks.
As the fighting drags on, Gazans hope world leaders can convince both sides to lay down arms and negotiate a just peace. But the emotional wounds suffered during months of war will take years to heal even if the rockets and bombs stop flying today.
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