49 mortars fired from Gaza into Israel; 2 lightly injured

Hamas claims responsibility for 10 of the mortars; Palestinians report IDF tank shells hit the Strip; barrage of projectiles explode in Sha'ar Hanegev, Sdot Hanegev regional councils, one building damaged.

March 19, 2011 13:23
2 minute read.
IDF soldiers on tank near Gaza border

IDF soldiers on tank near Gaza border 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)


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Civilian areas in southern Israel were heavily shelled by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza on Saturday morning, when more than 50 mortars were fired at the regional councils of Sha'ar Hanegev and Sdot Hanegev. Hamas' armed wing, the Izzadin Kassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for 10 of the mortars fired.

Two Israelis sustained light injuries by shrapnel, and received medical attention, police said.

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A majority of the projectiles landed in open areas, local officials reported but one building sustained extensive damage in the Eshkol Regionail Council.

Gaza-based Palestinian news sources reported that IDF tank shells hit the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning in response to the barrage of 50 Palestinian mortars.

According to various Palestinian reports, the IDF struck targets in the southern and central Strip. No injuries were reported.

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Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Saturday announced that he had instructed diplomats in New York to file a complaint over the mortar barrage.

Residents in the western Negev region near the Gaza border were asked to remain in protected rooms and weekend tourists were asked to leave the area.

The regional council is inhabited predominantly by farmers and has been the target of Palestinian shelling for several years.

Local authorities said on Saturday that they are in the midst of a legal campaign aimed at forcing the government to deploy the Iron Dome anti-rocket and anti-mortar shield.

Officials are petitioning the Supreme Court to order the state to deploy the shield to protect communities situated at least 4.5 kilometers away from the border and beyond. The system is unable to neutralize projectiles fired at communities up to 4.5 kilometers from the border.

The Supreme Court has ordered the state to reply to the petition within 30 days.

On Friday, an additional ten mortar shells fired from Gaza hit the western Negev.

The projectiles landed in open areas, causing no casualties or damage.

In addition, an anti-tank missile was fired at IDF soldiers patrolling the security fence on the southern border with Gaza, Friday morning.

No injuries were reported and no damage was caused on Friday.

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