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Rockets from Gaza strike Israel, which retaliates

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Several rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel over the weekend, leading to Israeli airstrikes in retaliation.

In one of the retaliatory attacks, a top Hamas commander was killed, according to the Jerusalem Post, which cited Palestinian reports.

On Sunday, a mortar shell landed in the western Negev, causing no damage or injuries, according to reports.

The rocket followed an attack Saturday night in which a Kassam rocket struck the roof of an empty public building near Sderot. The building’s roof and three rooms were damaged, but there were no injuries.

Israel’s Air Force retaliated later Saturday with a strike on what the military identified as a Hamas-linked terror tunnel and a weapons-smuggling tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip.

A long-range Grad rocket fired last Friday from Gaza landed in the city of Ashkelon, causing damage to buildings and cars, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Israel’s Air Force responded later in the day, striking a Hamas-linked terror activity site in the northern Gaza Strip, a weapons-manufacturing warehouse in the central Gaza Strip and a weapons-smuggling tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip, according to the IDF.

A top Hamas commander was killed and 11 Gazans were wounded in the retaliatory strike, the Jerusalem Post reported, citing Palestinian reports. The dead commander was identified as Issa Batran, 42, a commander of the group’s Izzadin Kassam military wing in central Gaza and a senior rocket maker.

"I view Hamas as directly responsible for all the attacks on Israel, and I believe the international community should see it the same way," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the beginning of Sunday’s regular Cabinet meeting. 

The Israel-based Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) condemned the attack on Ashkelon.

“Indiscriminate rocket fire against civilians is completely unacceptable and constitutes a terrorist attack," the statement from Special Mideast coordinator Robert Serry’s office said. “We call on the de-facto authorities in Gaza to ensure that these kinds of actions do not occur."

Also over the weekend, Israel’s U.N. envoy in Geneva, Aharon Leshno Yaar, submitted an official complaint to the Human Rights Council over the continuing rocket attacks. The complaint pointed out that the attacks targeted civilian targets.

Some 110 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israeli territory since the beginning of 2010, and more than 400 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel since the end of Operation Cast Lead, the monthlong 2008-09 Gaza war, according to the IDF.
 

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