With Sharon burial within rocket range, Israel sends stern warning to Hamas

The Sycamore Ranch, where Sharon will be laid to rest, is just six miles from the border with Gaza.

Knesset guard carry former PM Ariel Sharon's coffin, January 12, 2014. (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Knesset guard carry former PM Ariel Sharon's coffin, January 12, 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Israel beefed up security for former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's funeral near the Gaza border on Monday and warned the enclave's Palestinian rulers not to allow rocket fire during the ceremony, which US Vice President Joe Biden will attend.
Channel 2 reported on Monday morning that two rockets from Gaza were fired into open areas in Israel. No injuries or damage was caused.
However, An IDF Spokeswoman denied the report claiming no rockets had been fired into Israel on Monday.
Sharon died at the age of 85 on Saturday after eight years in a coma caused by a stroke. A memorial service was held on Monday in parliament in Jerusalem followed by an afternoon funearl near the Sharon family farm some 10 km (6 miles) from Gaza.
Foreign dignitaries, including Biden, attended the state ceremony for Sharon in Jerusalem. The White House said Biden would also travel to the burial at Sycamore Farm, in the southern Negev desert.
An Israeli security source said Israel had "passed the message" to Gaza authorities to prevent any rocket fire during the funeral. Gaza is governed by the Islamist Hamas movement, which has fought several rounds of violence with Israel over the past few years.
"It was made clear to them that tomorrow would be a very bad day for anyone there to test Israel's patience," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
There was no immediate response from the Hamas government. Egyptian officials, who in the past have served as mediators between Israel and Hamas, were unavailable for comment.
At times of heightened tension Israel steps up aerial patrols of Gaza with helicopters and drones designed to spot Palestinian rocket crews and hit them with guided missiles before they can carry out a launch.
The rockets are often inaccurate and carry small warheads, causing relatively little damage. But when fired in salvoes they spread panic and paralyse routine life in south Israel.
Security sources said Israel had deployed an Iron Dome rocket interceptor near Sycamore Farm, which had been hit by Gaza-launched rockets in the past.
According to Army Radio, there had been no intelligence indications that Palestinians were planning to shell the funeral. But authorities were taking no chances.
"We are taking the full range of possible scenarios into account," southern police commander Yoram Halevy told the station. "The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) is prepared, informed and ready to respond if so required."
Since a 2012 eight-day war with Israel, which killed some 170 Palestinians and six Israelis, Hamas has largely held fire but smaller militant groups have occasionally challenged its authority with their own rocket attacks into the Jewish state.