IAF strikes terrorist preparing to launch rocket from Gaza

Two Grad rockets are fired from Gaza toward Beersheba following brief respite, no injuries; IAF strikes weapon storage site and 5 rocket launch sites in Gaza; AFP reports 35 injured in Gaza.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
March 12, 2012 04:17
3 minute read.
Rocket-damaged school in Beersheba [file]

Rocket-damaged school in Beersheba 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The IAF killed a terrorist who was in the final stages of preparation to launch a rocket from Gaza into Israel territory Monday morning. Late Sunday night, Gazan terrorists fired two Grad rockets toward the Beersheba area, after a short respite from rocket fire. One projectile was intercepted by the Iron Dome rocket defense system and the second exploded in an open area outside the city. A siren was heard in the area. No injuries or damages were reported.

Meanwhile, the IAF struck a weapon storage site and four rocket launch sites in the northern Gaza Strip and one rocket launch site in the southern Gaza Strip. The IDF confirmed hits on its targets, and stated that the attack was a response to rocket fire.

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AFP reported that 35 Palestinians were injured in the air strikes. The news agency quoted Hamas emergency services spokesman Adham Abu Selmiya as saying most of the casualties were children.

Prior to the rockets fired overnight, there had been a lull in the constant barrage of projectiles launched from Gaza into southern Israel over the past three days. Along with the couple of hours of quiet came reports of a Hamas announcement that Israel had informed Egypt it would stop IAF strikes in Gaza at midnight. The IDF did not comment on the reports.

Islamic Jihad, however, denied reports of a planned ceasefire, saying that there had been no such dialogue and that they would continue the confrontation with the IDF "at whatever cost," Army Radio reported. Islamic Jihad Deputy Secretary-General Ziad Nahla reportedly said, "Israel is the one who began the aggression, and so Israel has to stop first."

Palestinian terrorists have fired over 160 rockets into Israeli territory since the beginning of the escalation, when the IAF foiled a major terror attack by killing Zuhair Qaisi in a bombing on Friday.

Sunday evening, at least four rockets were fired toward Ashkelon; the Iron Dome intercepted one of the rockets, while the other three landed in open fields near the city. No damages or injuries were caused by the attacks.

Earlier, a rocket fired towards Ofakim - a small city about halfway between Beersheba and the Gaza Strip - also landed in an open area, causing no damage or injuries.

The Home Front Command, along with the heads of a number of local authorities on Sunday night decided to cancel school in all towns and cities located between 7 km to 40 km from the Gaza Strip for the second day in a row.

smoke trails a rocket (Reuters)

The closure applied to the cities of Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheba, Netivot, Sderot, Kiryat Malachi, Gadera, Rahat, Yavneh, Lakiyeh, and the Gan Yavneh Regional Council.

Schools in the western Negev that are closer than 7 km to the Gaza Strip will hold class as usual, as they have the necessary reinforcements to protect against  incoming rockets, the Home Front Command said Saturday.

Sapir College in Sderet will stay open for classes on Monday despite the ongoing rocket attacks threatening southern Israel.

A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip hit a school in Beersheba on Sunday, exploding in its courtyard and damaging its outer walls. A second rocket slammed into the middle of a residential neighborhood in the city, damaging 15 homes and causing several residents to suffer shock.

Yaakov Katz, Ben Hartman and Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.

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