The launch of two rockets from the Gaza Strip prompted Israel to launch a massive airstrike in retaliation Thursday evening. The Israel Defense Forces seem to agree with the assessment, while the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank doubts the Israeli TV report.
The two rockets that were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Tel Aviv and almost started a war were launched by “accident,” Israel’s Channel 13 reported Friday.
According to the report, the launch happened after low-level Hamas operatives “messed with” the rocket launcher, which was set up to fire at Tel Aviv in case of a future conflict. The Jerusalem Post reports that the rockets could have accidentally gone off during a routine maintenance operation.
The launch reportedly came as a total surprise to both Hamas leaders and the Egyptian delegation they were having a meeting with at the time of the event.
“You’re meeting with us at the same time as you’re firing on Tel Aviv?” the Egyptians reportedly asked Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar in fury.
After Sinwar checked out what happened, he reportedly explained the situation to the Egyptians, who immediately called Tel Aviv and relayed what they had been told to the Israelis.
Israeli officials apparently believed the explanation, as Channel 13 reported that “had the launch been deliberate, the Israeli response would have been five times heavier.”
Responding to the launches, which did hit residential areas but caused no direct injuries, Israeli warplanes hit over 100 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip overnight from Thursday to Friday, The Times of Israel reported. The incident almost escalated to an all-out war after Hamas retaliated by launching several more rockets Thursday night.
An unnamed, low-level operative was arrested by Hamas authorities after the brief conflict, Channel 13 reported.
According to The Times of Israel, the West Bank’s Palestinian Authority doubted that the rockets were launched by mistake. The IDF, however, indicated that they consider the strike to be accidental, according to the Times.
Hamas officials said in an interview with the Times that the movement “has no interest in an escalation,” and that firing rockets is “outside the national consensus,” and they promised to take measures against the people behind it.
The farcical chain of events that almost led to the war was “like something out of Monty Python,” Channel 13 reported. This was the first rocket launch at Tel Aviv since 2014.