|Photo by: IDF Spokesman's Office|
Gazans fire 80 rockets at Israel in 24 hours
By YAAKOV LAPPIN, KHALED ABU TOAMEH, BEN HARTMAN
Two foreign workers severely wounded; IAF kills three members of rocket-launching crew; sides said to be negotiating cease-fire through Egyptian mediator.
Eighty rockets and mortar shells hit the western Negev on Wednesday, in the
second day of one of the most severe rocket barrages on southern Israel in
Late Wednesday night, a Palestinian official said Egypt was
trying to mediate a truce.
“The contacts Cairo made resulted in a verbal
promise by Hamas to calm the situation down, and Israel said it was monitoring
calm on the ground and would refrain from attacks unless it was subject to
rocket fire from Gaza,” said the official, who is close to the
Israeli officials had no immediate comment. Previous rounds of
cross-border attacks have usually fizzled out in days, with both Israel and
Hamas seemingly aware of the risks of ramping up the low-intensity
Earlier, two IAF strikes on rocket crews in the Strip left a
total of three Hamas men dead, Palestinian sources said.
IDF tanks also
directed fire at terrorist targets in southern Gaza following a rocket
Two Thai workers were severely wounded and a third was lightly
wounded by a rocket strike on a chicken coop in an agricultural area of the
Eshkol region on Wednesday morning, and three Israelis were hospitalized for
Southern District Police said that 32 Gazan projectiles hit the
Lachish region and 28 the western Negev since the early hours of the morning on
One rocket that struck a kibbutz in the Eshkol region blew
away the wall of a house, leaving a large crater in the ground and coming within
meters of killing a woman who managed to make it to shelter in
Hamas’s armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, said it was behind the rocket
fire, and released a video on its website showing a multiple- rocket launcher
firing several projectiles within seconds.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak
toured the border with the Strip and visited the IDF’s Gaza Division on
Wednesday, before holding a security evaluation meeting to determine Israel’s
next steps, warning that the army may have to send ground troops into
“We’ll act in any way necessary to restore calm,” he
Noting that “15 terrorists have been killed in recent weeks,”
Barak said Israel was involved in a “long conflict” with Gaza terrorist
“The situation is better now since there is the Iron Dome,”
Barak added, referring to the anti-rocket shield in place over most southern
Earlier on Wednesday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz
traveled to the South together with OC Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aviv
Kochavi and OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo.
On Wednesday, the
Hamas government announced that it would complain to the UN against Israel’s
“new aggression” against the Gaza Strip.
The announcement followed the
Hamas government’s weekly cabinet meeting in Gaza City.
It also followed
reports that Hamas and other terrorist groups have formed a joint operations
room to coordinate their attacks on Israel.
“We condemn the Zionist
aggression on the Gaza Strip, which has escalated in the last hours, and warn
against the repercussions,” a spokesman for the Hamas government said. “We
declare that we will file a complaint with the UN to explain the nature of the
Zionist aggression against our people and call for ending it
The Hamas leadership said in a statement that Israel was
escalating tensions in response to the visit to the Gaza Strip by the emir of
Qatar, Sheikh Hamad al-Thani.
The statement pointed out that Israel had
come out against the emir’s visit to the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. It claimed that
Israel was worried that the visit would end the “political and economic blockade
on the Gaza Strip.”
Hamas also warned that it would not allow “the crimes
of the Israeli occupation to pass without a response.”
Palestinian groups behind the current spate of rocket and mortar attacks on
Israel, Hamas vowed to “continue carrying the rifle together with all the free
forces until the liberation of Palestine and the defeat of the
Meanwhile, Fatah’s armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigade,
accused Hamas of arresting some of its members in Gaza who tried to fire rockets
The Fatah group said that Hamas security officers also
confiscated the rockets that were found in the possession of its men. The group
said that the Hamas security officers later shaved the heads of the detained