Rockets strike Israel during humanitarian cease-fire

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Rockets fired from Gaza struck southern Israel two hours after a humanitarian cease-fire went into effect.

Israel observed an agreed upon humanitarian cease-fire announced Wednesday night, halting its aerial fire on Gaza at 10 a.m. Thursday as agreed.

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Two hours after the cease-fire began, rockets were fired on the Eshkol region near the Gaza border, in violation of the cease-fire. It is not known what group fired the rockets. Hamas was the only Gaza terror group to officially agree to the cease-fire.

The halt in fire on both sides is to give Palestinian civilians an opportunity to purchase food and other necessities. Most Gazan civilians have not ventured far from their homes since the start ten days ago of Operation Protective Edge. In addition to Gazans flooding supermarkets, it is reported that hundreds are lining up outside of an open branch of the Bank of Palestine in Gaza City.

Robert Serry, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, had asked Israel to hold its fire for humanitarian reasons and Israel agreed.

Prior to the start of the cease-fire on Thursday morning a salvo of multiple rockets was fired at several heavily populated cities in central Israel, including Tel Aviv, Petah Tikvah and Netanya.  One rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, and the rest fell in open areas. Several rockets also were fired at Beersheba.

Israel’s Air Force reportedly struck 37 targets in Gaza overnight. The Palestinian death toll since the beginning of the operation stands at 214, according to Palestinian reports. One Israeli civilian has been killed since the beginning of the operation.