An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in the southern port city of Ashdod, July 8.
(photo credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)
As negotiations to reach a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas took place in Cairo, rockets and mortars continued to be fired into Israel on Sunday and the IDF responded by striking targets in Gaza.
By late Sunday, there were 35 rockets and mortars launched. Eight were shot down by the Iron Dome anti-rocket system and four landed in built-up areas, including at the Kerem Shalom crossing.
Hamas bombarded Israel with about 130 rockets and mortar shells since the cease-fire collapsed Friday. Two rockets that exploded in open territory near a kibbutz in the Sha’ar Hanegev region resulted in a fire breaking out, which was put out by emergency responders.
Two rockets hit the Eshkol region Sunday morning, without causing damage or injury.
Israeli strikes killed five Palestinians in Gaza, including a 14-year-old boy and a woman, according to Palestinian medics in the Strip.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office said that so far Sunday the IDF had hit 41 sites in the Gaza Strip, out of a total of about 150 since Friday.
Since the renewed fighting on Friday, 16 Palestinians have been killed in air strikes, said Gazan health sources. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have launched more than 100 mortars and rockets at Israel.
So far, Hamas has kept the attacks focused mainly on the farms and towns near the Gaza border, though it did fire rockets at Ashkelon on Sunday. Nonetheless, it has not reached Tel Aviv or anywhere else in the center of the country since last week.
The rocket fire also led to the closing of the Kerem Shalom crossing, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said goods continued to be transferred for hours on Sunday morning, despite a series of rockets fired beginning at 6 a.m. Once a new salvo began at 12:30 p.m., the ministry shut the crossing to protect the workers there, it said.
The Defense Ministry Land Crossings Authority said, “After continuous and intentional rocket fire at the Kerem Shalom crossing this morning and this afternoon, during which trucks carrying flammable materials to the Gaza Strip were almost hit, we took the exceptional decision to close the crossing in order to protect the lives of workers and traders. The crossing was open throughout Operation Protective Edge despite constant firing in its vicinity and is the sole artery for the passage of vital humanitarian goods and equipment to the residents of the Gaza Strip.”
Reuters contributed to this report.