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Mortars rock southern Israel

JERUSALEM (JTA) — At least 10 mortar shells fired from the Gaza Strip hit southern Israel.

The attack Thursday morning caused no damage or injuries. Six shells landed in the northwestern Negev, three near the Kerem Shalom crossing and one landed in Gaza, according to Haaretz. On Thursday evening a Kassam rocket fired from Gaza hit Ashkelon.

The Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility, reportedly saying it was in revenge for the killing of two of its members Tuesday as they prepared to fire rockets on Israel from Gaza.

Israel’s Defense Ministry ordered the closing of the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza due to the attacks, preventing dozens of trucks carrying humanitarian aid from entering Gaza, according to reports.

The attacks came a day after the head of the Israeli army’s Southern Command, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, warned Negev residents during a tour of the area with the leaders of several regional councils that the quiet in Israel’s South along the Gaza border may be temporary.  

Following Thursday’s attacks, Israel’s Air Force reportedly dropped thousands of leaflets in Gaza warning residents to remain further than about 1,000 feet from the Gaza-Israel border fence and not to cooperate with terrorists. Other leaflets included a phone number and e-mail address for Palestinians to report on those building illegal smuggling tunnels.

"The terror elements are a regular target for the Israel Defense Forces and they continue to operate nearby in order to take shelter among you," one of the leaflets read, according to Ynet. "The digging of tunnels from inside and nearby your homes and the smuggling of weapons endanger your lives and property. Don’t sit idly in light of your abuse by those terroristic elements, because they will not stand by you when your property is damaged. Take responsibility for your future."

The IDF last blanketed Gaza with leaflets in May. The army told Ynet that the operation had been planned and had nothing to do with Thursday’s mortar attacks.
 

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