Grad rocket lands near Ashdod; sirens heard throughout city

No reports of damage, injuries; 9 Palestinians, 4 civilians killed in IDF attacks on terrorists in Gaza Strip; PM "expresses regret" for innocent loss of life; Hamas threatens strong response.

By
March 23, 2011 02:30
3 minute read.
Grad rocket landed in Beersheba

Grad rocket in Beersheba 311. (photo credit: Yasser Okbi/Israel Post)

 
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A Grad rocket launched from the northern Gaza Strip exploded south of Ashdod on Tuesday night. There were no reports of injuries or damage to property.

An air raid siren was heard throughout Ashdod. Security forces were attempting to locate the rocket.

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At least nine Palestinians, including four civilians, were killed on Tuesday in separate IDF attacks against targets in the Gaza Strip, marking the bloodiest day in a week of escalating violence in the South.

On Tuesday evening, the IDF spotted a terror cell in the midst of preparing to launch a long-range rocket into Israel.

The IDF attacked the cell, killing four known terrorists who military sources said were behind the Grad-model Katyusha attack on Beersheba last month.

In the afternoon, IDF troops shot mortars into Gaza and accidentally hit innocent civilians in the northern town of Sajaya. The troops fired the mortars after they came under mortar fire from a terror cell that was spotted in a field near the town.



Palestinians reported that four people – aged 58, 12, 16 and 17 – were killed in the strike.

The IDF said that the Southern Command was investigating the incident, but stressed that Hamas was responsible for choosing to operate from within populated areas.

Later Tuesday night, an official IDF spokesperson announcement said that IDF aircraft fired on a terrorist in the northern Gaza Strip. The statement said the terrorist was planning to send rockets in the direction of Ashdod.

A short time earlier, four Kassam rockets exploded in open fields in the Sha’ar Hanegev region. No injuries or damages were reported.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a statement Tuesday night “expressing regret” at the loss of innocent life in Gaza, saying it was accidental.

According to the statement, Netanyahu stressed that the IDF mortar-firing had been a reaction to Hamas shelling of Israeli civilians.

“It is unfortunate that Hamas continues to rain down dozens of rockets on Israeli civilians intentionally, while using [their own] civilians as human shields. Israel has no intention of bringing about a deterioration of the situation, but at the same time, the IDF will continue to act decisively to protect Israeli citizens,” the statement read.

Hamas said in a statement that it would respond strongly to Israel’s actions.

On Tuesday morning, the IDF thwarted an attack after a tank crew spotted a group of terrorists preparing to fire an anti-tank missile. The tank opened fire and hit the group.

According to the Palestinians, 19 people were wounded, including four terrorists, in an air strike the IAF carried out on Monday night.

Hamas and several other Palestinian groups threatened on Tuesday to avenge the deaths of the Palestinians killed by IDF gunfire in the Gaza Strip, while the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank strongly condemned Israel.

Hamas’s renewed threat came only a day after the movement said it was interested in preserving the unofficial cease-fire with Israel.

Jerusalem Post Staff and Reuters contributed to the report.

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