Unceasing Kassam rocket fire, which continued even as Israel celebrated its Independence Day, shows that the government's policy of restraint is seen as weakness and cannot continue, Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Beitenu) said Tuesday. Lieberman said that Israel must take immediate steps to secure the safety of residents in Sderot and other areas in southern Israel. Earlier, Hamas spokesman Abu Obeideh told a Palestinian radio station that the volleys of Kassam rockets and mortar shells fired at Israel on Tuesday morning were meant to be a "clear message to the Zionist enemy."
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Obeideh said that the cease-fire in the Gaza Strip had ended long ago, and blamed Israel. He reminded listeners that Hamas was still holding Cpl. Gilad Schalit, and said that "[Hamas was] ready to kidnap and kill more and more soldiers."
At least 12 Kassam rockets and 20 mortar rounds were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip early Tuesday morning. All landed in open territory, and no casualties or damage were reported.
The IDF said that the attacks originated from two separate locations in the strip, and appeared to have been coordinated. IAF helicopters returned fire at the launch sites.
Hamas's armed wing, Izzadin a-Kassem, claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they were intended to avenge recent IDF operations in which nine Palestinians were killed, and released a statement decrying "Zionist crimes against [the Palestinian] people in Gaza and the West Bank."
Hamas also said it had fired some 80 missiles, but the IDF could not confirm anywhere near that number.
Kadima MK Shai Hermesh, a resident of Kibbutz Kfar Azza, told Army Radio that despite the government's promises, nothing had yet been done to fortify homes vulnerable to Kassam attacks.
In related news, IDF troops arrested six Palestinian terror suspects in the West Bank in operations overnight Monday, including five Islamic Jihad members in Hebron. All the detainees were transferred to security forces for interrogation.
Elsewhere in the West Bank, Palestinians opened fire on IDF soldiers patrolling south of Jenin. No casualties were reported among the troops.
Another IDF patrol discovered a 20-kg. bomb near Nablus. Sappers detonated the device without incident in a controlled explosion.