Over 30 mortar shells and Kassam rockets pounded the western Negev on Tuesday as the cabinet convened to debate whether to launch a military operation or accept a cease-fire with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The rocket barrage also came a day before the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems was set to conduct the first interception test of the Iron Dome Kassam defense system. The test will be the first time that the short-range missile defense system intercepts a mock Kassam rocket. The system is slated to become operational in 2010. Shortly after noon, some 20 mortar shells fired by Hamas terrorists pounded the fields of Kibbutz Kfar Aza. The projectiles landed in open areas throughout the Gaza periphery, and no casualties were reported. Shortly after the barrage, the IDF launched an air strike against the Palestinian cell which carried out the attacks. The army confirmed hitting members of the cell and Palestinians claimed that three of the men, Hamas operatives, were killed. Earlier on Tuesday, four Kassam rockets and four mortar shells struck open areas throughout the western Negev, from southern Asheklon to the Eshkol region, without causing casualties.