Rockets from Gaza hit Israel for third day

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Rockets fired from Gaza continued to hit southern Israel for a third day, despite Egyptian officials’ attempts to mediate a ceasefire.

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One of the rockets, of the more than 110 rockets that have struck Israel’s south since Saturday night, on Monday landed in the yard of a home in Netivot, damaging the home, and two neighboring homes, and leaving 20 people requiring treatment for shock. Two rockets fired at the major Israeli city of Ashkelon were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system on Monday morning. A rocket fired Sunday evening hit a home in Sderot.

Three rockets hit Israel Sunday night; Israel’s military retaliated with attacks on what it called in a statement a terror tunnel and a weapon storage facility in the northern Gaza Strip, as well as a launching site in the southern Gaza Strip. Direct hits were confirmed according to the military. Five more rockets were fired at Israel on Monday morning.

No rockets were fired overnight from Sunday to Monday after Egypt claimed to have negotiated a cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Palestinians whereby quiet would be met with quiet.

But while Hamas reportedly said it would hold its fire, Islamic Jihad continued to fire on southern Israel communities, leading Israel to retaliate.

At least six Palestinians reportedly have been killed in retaliatory Israeli airstrikes on what the Israel Defense Forces called “terror activity sites.”

The rocket fire began Saturday night and continued throughout Sunday.  A factory in Sderot was hit Sunday morning, and several buildings and two cars in the Sha’ar Hanegev municipality also were damaged in attacks. At least three Israelis have been wounded.

Taking responsibility for the attacks, the terrorist group Islamic Jihad said it shot more than 70 rockets at Israel between Saturday night and Sunday morning, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported.

Maan reported that at least six Palestinians have been killed in Israeli retaliation on what the IDF said were weapon manufacturing facilities, weapon storage facilities and rocket-launching sites.

The Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted a rocket heading for the major Israeli city of Ashdod on Saturday and a rocket targeting Beersheba on Sunday.

Schools throughout southern Israel were closed Sunday.

“The firing [of rockets] has been relentless today,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told journalists Sunday. “As far as Israel is concerned, Hamas is responsible for the rocket fire and all other attempts to harm our soldiers and civilians [from Gaza], even when other groups participate. And it is Hamas that will pay the heavy price; a price that will be painful.”

Barak added that Israel “will strike with an ever-growing intensity.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet that “The world must understand that Israel will not sit with its hands crossed.”

On Saturday, four Israeli soldiers were injured when an anti-tank missile hit an IDF jeep patrolling the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip.

The IDF responded Saturday night by targeting several of what it called “terror activity sites” in Gaza, leaving four Palestinians dead and dozens wounded. The rocket attacks and Israeli retaliation continued on Sunday morning, killing two more Palestinian Gazans.


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