(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip arrested the militants who launched a mortar at southern Israel on Tuesday evening, Israel Radio quoted a senior defense official as saying.
Israel made clear to Hamas that if it did not take swift action against those responsible for firing the mortar, the IDF would need to enter the picture, according to Israel Radio.
Hamas told mediators that it was interested in preserving the cease-fire and that it apprehended those responsible for the mortar.
Defense sources told Israel Radio that Hamas moved quickly to arrest the perpetrators because the organization is "disturbed by the situation."
A Palestinian shell fired from Gaza landed in Israeli territory, near the southern border on Tuesday evening. There were no injuries or damages in the attack, which occurred in the region between Eshkol and Sdot Negev.
It was the first mortar or rocket attack from the Gaza Strip since August 26, when a truce went into effect between Hamas and Israel after 50 days of conflict.
The attack was not immediately claimed by any faction in Gaza.
Hamas denied any knowledge on Tuesday of a cross-border mortar attack on Israel and said Palestinian factions remained committed to the Egyptian-brokered truce that halted a seven-week war in the enclave.
"There is no sign a mortar bomb was fired from Gaza and Palestinian factions are committed to keep the agreement for calm, and eager to maintain it," spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
Following the attack, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni stressed that the IDF must respond with force to any violation of the Gaza cease-fire.
"This is a test of Israel's deterrent force," Livni said. "The lack of an adequate response will reintroduce the routine of [rocket] alarms to the citizens of Israel."
The attack came as Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon warned that the coming year will not be a quiet one in the world of security, also on Tuesday during a briefing with journalists at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.
"Things can occur in every sector," he said, citing the high level of instability afflicting the region.