An al-Qaida-linked group calling itself "The Shura Council of Mujahideen in the Holy Land" claimed responsibility Tuesday for a cross-border attack along Israel's southern border that killed one construction worker on Monday.
obtained a video showing a group of masked men who claimed
responsibility for the attack. The masked men used Islamic slogans,
pledging to liberate the Holy Land from what they termed Jewish control.
second video showed two men, one of whom said they were about to embark
on a mission to attack "the Zionist forces on the border of Egypt and
occupied Palestine", an apparent reference to Monday's incident on the
The first man said he was an Egyptian named Abu
Salah al-Masri. The other said he came from Saudi Arabia and gave his
name as Abu Huthiyfa al-Rathali. The videos could not immediately be
Meanwhile, 46 rockets and mortar shells pounded
southern Israel on Tuesday, in one of the worst days of violence in
months. Israel was expected to escalate its response and Defense
Minister Ehud Barak held security consultations late Tuesday night to
review various options
36 fell in the Negev region and 10
exploded in the Lachish area. Police bomb squads spent the day searching
for rocket impact areas to
recover the projectiles’ remains. No one was hurt in the attacks but
residents in the Ashkelon and Sdot Negev regions were ordered to stay
close to bomb shelters throughout the day.
Israel was concerned with the increase in rocket fire and particularly
with Hamas’s declared involvement in the attacks, a clear break from
its earlier policy not to attack Israel as was demonstrated during the
last round of violence with Islamic Jihad in March.
attacking Israel along the border with the Gaza Strip, Hamas has
refrained from firing its long-range Grad-model Katyusha rockets into
Israeli cities. Instead, it allowed other groups, such as Islamic Jihad
or the Popular Resistance Committees to fire into Israel.
afternoon, the Israel Air Force attacked a motorbike in the central Gaza
Strip, wounding one person, who the IDF said was involved in the rocket
fire into Israel.
Iron Dome batteries were deployed throughout
the South but by the evening had not been activated. The IDF said that
the batteries were on high alert and were prepared to defend the cities
Hamas claimed that it was responding to the
killing of Palestinians in recent days. The IAF killed at least six
Palestinians since Monday, when it launched a series of airstrikes
against a sniper and rocket cell.
"The more things deteriorate,
the closer we come to a decision we don't want to make," Deputy Prime
Minister Silvan Shalom said. "The prospect of a ground operation (in the
Gaza Strip) shouldn't frighten us."
"If this situation
escalates, and I hope it won't, then all options are open. They know it.
We know it. The international community knows it," he told Israel
Reuters contributed to this report.