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A rocket fired by terrorists in Gaza killed one Israeli and wounded several others on May 11 when it struck an apartment building in the city of Rehovot. “It was a very difficult scene with a lot of destruction,” said Yoni Rottenberg, head of the Rehovot branch of United Hatzalah, an emergency medicine group. The attack, which occurred shortly after 6 p.m. local time and yielded the first Israeli fatality of the conflict, comes in the wake of Israel’s killing of two senior Islamic Jihad commanders responsible for engineering rocket attacks against the Jewish state. An Israeli military official said Israel waited two days to target one of the commanders because he was using a family as human shields.

Expert Analysis

“While the Iron Dome missile defense system is highly effective against rockets out of the Gaza Strip, it is not a hermetic solution. Israel learned this the hard way on Thursday, with a direct strike by Islamic Jihad on an apartment building in the town of Rehovot that killed a citizen. Iron Dome will continue to provide Israel the time and space to make measured decisions in the face of rocket attacks. But this fatality may lead to pressure from the Israeli public to take more aggressive action against Islamic Jihad in Gaza.” — Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

“Iron Dome isn’t fool-proof and Iran is always working on new techniques and rocket enhancements to try to defeat the system. What stands out is the contrast between Israeli precision strikes targeting terrorist leaders and the intentional targeting of civilians by Tehran-directed terrorists.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

Success Rate of Israel’s Air Defense Systems

Iran-backed terrorists in Gaza have fired at least 803 rockets toward Israel since the latest round of fighting began, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Of these projectiles, 620 crossed into Israel. Israel’s Iron Dome and David’s Sling air defense systems had a 96 percent shootdown rate of rockets engaged, the IDF said. However, the rocket strike in Rehovot indicates the limits of the military technology. “Our people must be proud of this blessed response,” said Islamic Jihad in a statement regarding the attack. The Palestinian capabilities may prompt Israel to take more aggressive military action against terrorists in Gaza to deter and prevent further rocket attacks.

Israel Targets Islamic Jihad Commanders

Israel killed two senior Islamic Jihad commanders before the Rehovot attack, dealing a blow to the terrorist group’s leadership structure. The first target was Ali Ghali, commander of Islamic Jihad’s rocket launching force, the IDF said. The second target was Ghali’s deputy, Ahmad Abu Daqqa. The IDF said Ghali “held a central role in the instruction and launching of rocket fire toward Israel,” while Abu Daqqa “took a significant part in commanding and carrying out the rocket barrages towards Israel.”

Related Analysis

Iran’s Multifront Strategy Against Israel,” by Jonathan Schanzer

Islamic Jihad Seeks Israel’s Destruction,” FDD Flash Brief

Gaza-Based Terrorists Backed by Iran Renew Rocket Fire, Reaching Tel Aviv Outskirts,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Kills Three Islamic Jihad Terror Chiefs in Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief

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