kassam unit 298.
(photo credit: Channel 1 [file])
Three Kassam rockets fired from the Gaza Strip fell in the western Negev on Sunday, but no one was wounded and no damage reported. All of the rockets were fired from areas not affected by the no-go zone in northern Gaza, where the former Nisanit, Dugit and Elei Sinai settlements were located.
Two rockets fired from the outskirts of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza exploded in open areas in the western Negev. The third rocket was fired from Beit Hanun in northern Gaza and landed in an open area near Sderot, Southern Command officers said.
On Sunday night, the IDF's big guns shelled access routes to the northern Gaza area used by terror cells to launch Kassam rockets, the army said.
Israeli security officials told The Jerusalem Post that despite the ongoing Kassam attacks, there are no current plans to expand the no-go zone. They did not, however, rule out such a possibility if the attacks escalated.
Last week, in an attempt to curb the Kassams, the army implemented Operation Blue Skies, which stipulated that, apart from Palestinian Authority security personnel operating legitimately in the northern Gaza enclave, any one else would be at risk of being fired on by the army on entering the restricted zone.
After dropping leaflets to warn civilians of the new restrictions, the army stepped up its air surveillance, and artillery units intensified the shelling of access routes used by the terror cells. Security officials were quick to point out that terrorists have recently used the area to launch rocket attacks. No civilians live in the restricted zone.
Late Saturday night, an IAF aircraft fired a missile at a three-man terror cell preparing to fire a Kassam from the restricted area. Two Palestinians were killed and a third wounded and taken to a hospital in Gaza, the army said.
IDF surveillance teams spotted the three near the security fence of the former Elei Sinai settlement and, after verifying that they were not innocent civilians, hit them, a Southern Command officer said.
Palestinian media reports later identified the two dead as Motaz Hamdouna, 26, and Hamza Hamdouna, 22.
Meanwhile, sources in Central Command said security forces have arrested a number of operatives attached to the Islamic Jihad cell responsible for firing a Kassam rocket from the Jenin area into Israel three weeks ago. According to the sources, the rocket reached a height of 30 meters before it fell in a Palestinian area not far from Moshav Ram On, near Afula.
The sources said that only after Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack were officials made aware of it, and security forces began searching the area for the rocket remains. The sources noted that it is not the first time that terror groups in the West Bank have attempted to launch a Kassam.
Gilboa area community leaders on Sunday expressed outrage over the failure of the security establishment to inform them of the attack, saying they learned of it from media reports.
Danny Atar, head of the Gilboa Regional Council, sent a letter to Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz criticizing the security establishment for failing to inform him. He expressed anger saying that because of the lack of information residents were not able to take the necessary precautions. He accused Mofaz of abandoning the residents and demanded to know why the information was kept from them.
Last year, the security establishment thwarted eight attempts by terrorists in the West Bank to manufacture Kassam rockets. Four of the cells involved were affiliated with Hamas, and four were jointly run by Islamic Jihad and Fatah Tanzim.