Rocket lands near Kibbutz Yad Mordechai dining hall; none wounded.
By YAAKOV KATZ
IDF artillery cannons continued Saturday to pound Kassam launch sites in the northern Gaza Strip after a Kassam rocket landed on Friday inside Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, south of Ashkelon. The rocket fell near the dining hall while kibbutz members sat down for Friday night Shabbat dinner. No one was wounded, but the hall sustained heavy damage.
The army claimed over the weekend that the constant artillery barrages on launch sites in the northern Gaza Strip as well as the threat of IAF targeted killings had the terror groups "under pressure" and had impaired their firing capabilities including the rockets' level of accuracy. In contrast to two weeks ago during which close to 40 rockets were fired at Israel, only 22 Kassams were launched form Gaza since last Sunday. IDF cannons fired close to 500 shells over the weekend.
But despite the temporary drop in rocket fire, senior officers have yet to rule out a ground operation into the Gaza Strip. On Thursday, IDF troops made a brief incursion into Gaza - the first since disengagement - to search for explosives devices they feared had been planted along the security fence.
The Palestinian government, head of the National Security Council Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland said Saturday, must take control of Gaza and stop the attacks on Israel. He said Israel regretted civilian casualties caused by its counterattacks, but blamed the terrorists for launching rockets from within populated areas.
"To give immunity to those who launch Kassam rockets only because they act from within civilian areas is unacceptable for Israel," he said. "With all the grief involved, and all caution taken, sometimes civilians can get harmed."
He did not rule out the possibility Israel could wage an offensive inside Gaza. "So far we are not going back into Gaza. Entering Gaza is for sure a step on a higher level," he said. "Perhaps at a certain stage there will be no choice but to do it. I don't think it's the preferred mode of action."
AP contributed to the report.
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