kassam lands 88.
(photo credit: )
Islamic Jihad on Tuesday rejected a call from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to halt rocket attacks on Israeli towns, dealing a new blow to the Palestinian leader and prompting a new round of Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip.
Abbas traveled to Gaza on Tuesday for talks with the terror groups, in part to halt growing violence along Israel's border with Gaza. Israel has put heavy pressure on Abbas to stop terrorists from firing rockets.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, a participant in the meeting, said Abbas urged all Palestinian groups to honor a cease-fire reached with Israel in February.
"We demand everyone be committed to the truce," Erekat said. "We consider the truce a matter of high national interest."
But Islamic Jihad, which has been responsible for most of the rocket fire, rejected the appeal. Spokesman Khaled Batch accused Israel of violating the cease-fire, and said attacks were the only proper response. "I think the continuation of resistance is what's better for the Palestinian people," he said.
More rockets were launched by terrorists at communities in southern Israel late Tuesday, and the IAF quickly responded with an air strike on a suspected launch site in northern Gaza. There were no reports of injuries.
Since Israel's withdrawal in September from the Gaza Strip, terrorists have continued to fire Kassam rockets into southern Israel. Although the rockets are notoriously inaccurate, more Israeli towns, including the city of Ashkelon, are in rocket range now that Israel is out of Gaza.
Israel has responded with numerous air strikes on suspected launch sites in northern Gaza. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has approved a buffer zone in northern Gaza, although the army said it has not yet implemented the plan, which includes firing on anyone who enters the area.
Late Tuesday, the Israeli air force dropped leaflets into northern Gaza, warning residents to stay out of areas used by terrorists to fire rockets.
"Terror organizations continue to launch projectile rockets at Israeli territory from your neighborhoods," the leaflet said. "Presence in areas used for projectile rocket launching puts your life in danger."