Kassam rocket strikes Eshkol Region

Earlier, IAF strikes smuggling tunnels in Gaza after Sderot houses damaged in Kassam strike.

rocket smoke 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
rocket smoke 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip continued their rocket attacks against Israel on Thursday, launching a Kassam rocket in the evening which struck an open field in the Eshkol Region. No casualties or damage were reported. This recent attack joins the two rockets fired early in the morning which struck Sderot and the Sha'ar Hanegev region. In Sderot, tragedy was averted as one rocket landed close to two houses, damaging both but causing no injuries. A number of Sderot residents were treated for shock. No one was wounded and no damage was reported in the Sha'ar Hanegev attack. IAF aircraft on Thursday afternoon hit smuggling tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip in response to the Kassam attack on Sderot. Palestinian sources were quoted by Israel Radio as saying that there were no wounded in the attack, during which at least three missiles were fired. Rocket attacks and Israeli counterstrikes have persisted despite efforts to secure a cease-fire through Egyptian mediation. Two weeks ago, a truce deal seemed imminent, with both Egyptian and Hamas officials claiming that an agreement was only "hours away." However, the talks hit a snag when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared that no cease-fire would be signed without the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit. Since then, rocket attacks against the western Negev have been ongoing, and Israel has frequently responded with military strikes. On Wednesday, two Kassam rockets hit southern Israel, provoking an Israeli air strike against seven smuggling tunnels under the Philadlephi Corridor later in the day. Neither the rockets nor the air strikes caused any casualties. On Wednesday, Olmert reinstated senior Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad as his special envoy to Egypt, just two days after Gilad had been removed for publicly criticizing the premier. Gilad, who has led the negotiations for a cease-fire, is expected to continue his efforts in the coming days. Olmert's point-man on prisoner issues, Ofer Dekel, flew to Cairo Thursday morning as part of efforts to secure Schalit's release. Dekel was expected to present Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman with a list of Palestinian prisoners that Israel is willing to release in a deal with Hamas.