Gaza violence not expected to escalate, officials say

IAF attacks tunnel, terror-related targets in Gaza in response to rockets fired at western Negev; 4 shells contained white phosphorous.

white phosphorous 311 (photo credit: AP)
white phosphorous 311
(photo credit: AP)
Defense officials predicted Saturday that the recent round of violence between Israel and the Gaza Strip, set off by the targeted killing last week of a top al- Qaida-affiliated terrorist and his brother, would die down and not escalate into a larger conflict.
On Friday, the Israel Air Force bombed three targets in Gaza hours after Palestinians fired phosphorus mortar shells into the Western Negev. On Thursday night, for the first time since Operation Cast Lead almost two years ago, a Grad-model Katyusha hit near Ofakim.
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Eight Palestinians were reportedly wounded in the bombings. Later Friday, the IAF also bombed a tunnel which Israel said was used to smuggle weaponry and explosives from Sinai to Rafah in Gaza. One of the earlier targets was a training base used by the Islamic Jihad.
The round of violence came after Israel killed a senior member of the Army of Islam, a group affiliated with al-Qaida.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman directed acting ambassador to the United Nations Meron Reuben to file a complaint to UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon Friday over a barrage of rockets and mortar shells fired into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip that day that also included white phosphorous shells.
Lieberman said in a statement that the rocket and mortar attacks were additional reminders to the international community that Israel’s citizens in the South were living under perpetual fear of unbridled terrorism coming from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The IDF reported that the four mortar shells that landed near Ashkelon contained white phosphorous. The Salah a-Din Brigade claimed responsibility for the mortar attack, which the group said came in response to the IDF’s targeted killing.