Burned out cars hit by Grad rockets in Ashdod 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/ Nir Elias)
Egypt mediated a
truce between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza, set to take
effect at 6 a.m. on Sunday, according to reports from officials
in Cairo late Saturday night. Meanwhile, the deadly rocket fire continued into southern Israel. Islamic Jihad claimed not to have known about the
ceasefire, Israel Radio reported.
IDF spokeswoman Avital Leibovich said Sunday morning that 39 rockets and mortars had been fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip in the past 24 hours. Early Sunday morning, the Iron Dome rocket defense system intercepted two Grad rockets fired toward Gan Yavne.
Palestinian rocket fired from Gaza explodes near Beersheba
Iron Dome battery moved south after Gaza-rocket attacks
One man was killed and four
people were wounded in a bombardment of rockets fired by Islamic Jihad from Gaza on Saturday.
rocket casualty was later named as Ami Moshe, 56, of Ashkelon. Moshe was
on his way home to his family when the air raid siren went off. He left
his vehicle and ran for cover, but was mortally injured by flying
shrapnel from the rocket fired at a residential neighborhood in
Ashkelon. He was rushed to the Barzilai Medical Center in the city, but
doctors were unable to save his life. Moshe was able to answer a call
from his concerned wife and tell her that he had been injured before
being evacuated to hospital.
chiefs searched for a way to contain the situation on Saturday, as the
Air Force went into action to strike terror cells preparing rockets for
launch in northern and southern Gaza. The IAF attacked six targets in
the Gaza Strip on Saturday night, the IDF declared in a press release.
In the northern Gaza Strip it attacked three terror tunnels and three
rocket launchers, and in the northern Gaza Strip it attacked two centers
of terrorist activity.
"The attack was a response to a barrage of rockets fired over Israel," the IDF stated.
IDF will not hesitate to act decisively and forcefully against anyone
who uses terror against the citizens of Israel, until quiet returns to
area. Hamas is a terrorist organization and bears the responsibility."
confirmed killing 10 Islamic Jihad members on Saturday. It struck four
terror targets in Gaza between 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Saturday night. The
targets included a terror cell in southern Gaza planning to fire a
projectile, a terrorist planning a rocket strike, and two rocket launch
sites in northern Gaza. An additional terrorist in southern Gaza
planning a rocket attack was also struck from the air on Saturday night.
Furthermore, a cell in northern Gaza was also hit by the Air Force.
200,000 school children will stay at home as classes in Ashdod,
Beersheba and Kiryat Malachi were canceled by local officials, and the
IDF Home Front Command asked people who live within 40 kilometers of the
Gaza Strip to stay near structures protected against rockets.
Saturday, 35 projectiles, including Grads and mortar shells, were fired
at southern communities, hitting built-up areas in Ashdod, Ashkelon and
regional councils across the region. A number of the rockets caused
extensive damages to buildings.
The IDF struck a rocket-launching
cell in Rafah, in the southern Strip, following the upsurge in attacks,
reportedly killing two terrorists.
“Hamas is responsible for what takes place in Gaza,” the army said.
bore the brunt of the attacks, and was targeted by at least three Grad
rockets. One slammed into an empty school, and a second struck in the
nearby Gan Yavne Regional Council, moderately wounding a man who was
searching for his son.
TV footage showed bloodstained pavement where the man had been injured before running indoors and contacting paramedics.
third rocket slammed into a parking lot between two multi-story
residential buildings in Ashdod. It set several vehicles on fire and
left behind extensive wreckage. The flames were doused by Israel Fire
and Rescue crews, who also broke into homes in nearby buildings to
“This was a miracle, it could have been much worse,” Magen David Adom director-general Eli Bin said.
“Ashdod is under attack, without a doubt,” Mayor Yehiel Lari said.
A rocket fired at Ashkelon sent shrapnel flying that moderately wounded a man.
was taken by MDA paramedics to the city’s Barzilai Medical Center. A
second rocket fired at Ashkelon scored a direct hit on a home, setting
gas canisters on fire.
Fire crews doused the flames.
wave of rockets came after the IDF, working with the Shin Bet (Israel
Security Agency), identified and struck an Islamic Jihad rocket cell in
Gaza earlier on Saturday, killing five terrorists, including senior
Islamic Jihad commander Ahmed Sheikh Khalil, who was responsible for the
group’s considerable rocket production facilities.
said the cell was the same one that fired the unprovoked long-range Grad
that struck near Rehovot last week. That rocket was supposedly launched
to mark the anniversary of the 1995 assassination in Malta of Islamic
Jihad leader Fathi Shikaki, the first person to publish a booklet that
legitimized suicide in jihad.
“The cell was preparing to fire
another rocket into Israel,” an IDF spokesman said. Other reports added
that the cell was targeted at an Islamic Jihad training camp. The
terrorist organization vowed a major response to the air strike.
Jihad’s propaganda wing released a video on the Internet on Saturday
showing a multi-rocket launcher mounted on a truck and firing several
projectiles in succession.
The video is part of a boast by the Iranian-backed group that its rocket launching capabilities have improved over recent years.
The group’s claim that the video was taken on Saturday in Gaza could not be confirmed.
But the organization has been the recipient of large-scale Iranian support, both military and financial.
Saturday night, Islamic Jihad’s Quds Brigades said the first wave of
rockets was its “initial response” to the strike on its rocket cell,
adding that “the enemy should expect the worst in the coming hours,”
Channel 10 reported.
The organization’s leader in Syria, Ramadan Abdullah, recently attended a conference in Iran calling for Israel’s destruction.
the conference, Abdullah said Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamanei’s “plan is a road map to the liberation of the occupied
territories,” referring to the whole of Israel.
Islamic Jihad has long been Iran’s closest proxy in the Palestinian territories.
the past, the organization’s leadership described itself as “one of the
many fruits on our leader [former Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah
Ruhollah] Khomeini’s tree.”
A spokesman for Robert Serry, the
UN’s special envoy for the Middle East peace process, said in a
statement, “The recent escalations are very worrying. It’s vital to
deescalate now, without any delay. We strongly appeal for calm and an
end to violence and bloodshed.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was receiving regular briefings on the security situation, officials said.
Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who was on a trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina on
Saturday, warned that “if the rocket fire isn’t halted, there will be
serious consequences in the coming days.”
Lieberman said that
Israel hasn’t been insisting that its security needs must be met in any
final-status agreement with the Palestinians without good reason.
“Just today we have seen why this is necessary,” he said.
are not seeking violence with the Palestinians and we do not want to
‘heat up’ the situation, but we won’t suffer one rocket barrage after
another without a response. Therefore I hope that already tonight, the
rocket barrages will stop with the intervention of neighboring
countries, the international community and the Palestinian Authority,”
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) visited Gan Yavne, where one of the rockets stuck, on Saturday evening.
will support any action the government chooses in order to stop the
attacks,” she said. “Residents of the South bravely deal with constant
attacks, and we will all try to support them.”
“remind everyone that the South is full of terrorist extremists, whom
Israel must weaken directly and by negotiating with moderates who do not
use violence,” Livni wrote on her Facebook page.
Hamas feels strong following the Schalit deal, we must be aggressive in
order to bring back Israel’s deterrence,” MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud)
said. “We must make the residents of the towns surrounding Gaza, and all
of Israel’s citizens, feel safe again.”
Arye Eldad (National Union) said, “After avoiding a military attack on
the heads of terrorist organizations and instead surrendering to Hamas
and freeing hundreds of murderers, we will now have to act.
“The excuse that Schalit will be hurt can no longer disguise the disgrace of our capitulation,” Eldad said.
“Now Israel must stop reacting and start preventing.
Only methodically wiping out the heads of terrorist organizations,
especially [Hamas’s Ahmed] Jabari who held Schalit, will bring back our
deterrence that was worn out by the deal [for Schalit’s release].”
Police have gone on the second highest level of alert, and have called
on members of the public to refrain from gathering at rocket impact
zones, to avoid additional injuries.
Tovah Lazaroff and Reuters contributed to this report