A member of the Kassam Brigades.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ismail Zaydah)
As rocket and mortar fire from the Gaza Strip continued to rain down on southern Israel on Wednesday, Hamas announced it was ready to stop the latest round of cross-border violence as long as Israel followed suit.
"Responding to the Egyptian efforts, we and the armed resistance announce our commitment to stop this round of confrontation as long as the occupation stops this aggression," said a written statement from Hamas's armed wing.
More than 55 rockets hit southern Israel on Wednesday as the IDF struck back at Hamas and Global Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip despite Egyptian calls for an immediate ceasefire.
In the third day of violence, the Israel Air Force struck a motorbike in southern Gaza, seriously injuring Mohammed Rashdan who the IDF said was a member of a Gaza-based Global Jihad group and one of the planners of the deadly attack along the Egyptian border on Monday.
Aleb Armilat, who assisted Rashdan in planning the attack, was killed in the strike. In the evening, the IAF struck two more targets in Gaza, which it said were Hamas training camps. The Palestinians said that two teenagers were injured in the strikes.
In another strike, a 14-year-old was reportedly killed as the IAF bombed what it said was a rocket launching cell in the northern Gaza Strip.
The dead teenager was identified as Momen al-Adam. Two other people were reported injured in the attack. The airstrikes on Wednesday followed eight bombings late Tuesday night throughout the Gaza Strip.
IDF sources said that Rashuan was in the midst of planning another attack against Israel from the Sinai and that he was one of the key architects of Monday’s attack. One officer said that the involvement of Global Jihad operatives in attacks against Israel was not surprising but was concerning since the groups did not heed Hamas’s authority and would be difficult to rein in to abide by a new ceasefire.
Some of the groups are made up of former Islamic Jihad and Hamas members. Others, the officer said, come from Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
In a sign that the violence was expected to continue on Thursday, the Home Front Command issued instructions to the public banning studies in schools that are not reinforced and are located within seven kilometers of the Gaza border. It also banned public gatherings – indoors or outdoors - of over 500 people. The instructions are in effect until Thursday evening.
Meanwhile Wednesday, Palestinian terrorists fired more than 55 rockets into southern Israel throughout the day, damaging homes and sending eight civilians into shock. One rocket was intercepted by Iron Dome counter-rocket defense systems on its way to Netivot. The IDF said that its three operational Iron Dome batteries were deployed in the South.
Police bomb squad officials said 30 rockets slammed into the Negev region, while a further nine struck the Lachish region. More than 100 rockets have been fired into Israel since Monday.
A wave of rockets was fired at the Sdot Negev Regional Council, with projectile exploding in the front yard of a home. Shrapnel damaged the home, though its residents fortunately took cover in a safe room before the impact. There were no injuries in that attack.
Earlier, six Palestinian rockets expoded in the Eshkol Regional council, with four of them falling inside a village. The projectiles sparked a blaze, and sent three women into shock.
On Wednesday morning, terrorists fired a long-range Grad in the direction of Beersheba. It fell in the Bnei Shimon regional council, setting off air raid sirens, but failing to cause injuries.
Eight rockets slammed into farming regions overnight, damaging buildings in Lachish.