After days of threats, rocket aimed at Israel falls short in Gaza

Hamas walks back threats, role as guardian of Al-Aqsa Mosque, after Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Days of threats from the Gaza-based Hamas terror group pledging to violently retaliate should National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visit the Temple Mount culminated in the failed launch of a single rocket, which fell short and landed in the Strip.

The rocket was launched around 11 p.m. on Tuesday night, and due to its failure to cross the border into Israeli territory, air raid sirens did not sound in Israel’s Gaza-adjacent communities.

Neither Hamas nor Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the other major terror group in the coastal enclave, took credit for the launch.

It’s unclear if the launch was carried out by individuals unaffiliated with the terror group, members acting independently against the directives of the terror groups, or terror groups that may have been embarrassed by the failure and chose to deny responsibility for it.

After Ben-Gvir announced on Sunday that he would visit the compound, which is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest site for Muslims, a Hamas spokesman said the minister’s presence at the Temple Mount would be tantamount to a “declaration of war.”

The spokesman insinuated that the terror group and its operatives would respond with rocketfire or other forms of terror, should the lawmaker step foot in the compound.

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However, after Ben-Gvir toured the site in an uneventful Tuesday morning visit, Hamas released a laconic statement walking back its harsh rhetoric.

Calling Ben-Gvir a “fascist Zionist,” the statement promised that “the Palestinian people will continue to protect their holy sites and al-Aqsa Mosque, and will continue fighting for its purification from the filth of the occupation.”

Notably, the statement framed defending al-Aqsa Mosque as the responsibility of all Palestinians, a departure from the terror group’s usual stance of declaring itself the guardian of the site.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, responding Tuesday to criticism of Ben-Gvir’s visit to the Mount, issued a statement saying that Israel “will not be dictated to by Hamas.”

Hamas is heavily supported by Qatar, which also acts at times as an intermediary between the terror group and the Israeli government.

During the December 2022 World Cup, which was held in Qatar, Hamas was reportedly instructed by the Gulf kingdom to refrain from firing rockets at Israel for fear it would create bad publicity for Qatar.