Rockets, mortar shells fall on Negev, Ashkelon

Rockets, mortar shells f

Violence continued to escalate on the Gaza front over the weekend after a number of Kassam rockets were fired into Israel, hitting open fields in the western Negev. Since Thursday, 10 mortar shells and at least five rockets, including a Katyusha, have been fired into Israel, the most in such a short span since Operation Cast Lead ended last year. On Saturday, three rockets hit open fields in the Sha'ar Hanegev region. No injuries or damage were reported. On Thursday night, for the first time since Cast Lead, a Katyusha rocket landed in an open field south of Ashkelon. In response to the attack on Ashkelon, the IAF bombed a number of targets throughout the Gaza Strip, Palestinians said that three men were killed in a smuggling tunnel that was bombed along the Gaza-Egypt border. The Kassam attacks on Saturday followed a Hamas announcement on Friday that it had managed to smuggle new types of weapons into Gaza despite the blockade. The Izzadin al-Kassam Brigades published photographs of weapons, including missiles with a double warhead, 107mm caliber missiles designed to penetrate fortified structures, and a new type of armor-piercing RPG missile. Hamas spokesman Abu Ubeida warned that the group has "thousands of fighters and good weapons capable of harming Israel." A spokesman from the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, warned early Saturday morning that armed Palestinian groups would not hesitate to confront Israel if strikes on the Gaza Strip continue. Speaking to the Palestinian Ma'an news agency, Abu Ahmad said, "Israel's escalation in Gaza is part of an ongoing effort by the occupation forces to provoke us into renewed violence."