JERUSALEM (JTA) — Rockets fired from Gaza struck southern Israel for a third straight day, despite attempts by Egyptian officials to mediate a cease-fire.
As many as 140 rockets have been fired at Israel’s South since Saturday night, according to reports.
No rockets were fired overnight from Sunday to Monday after Egypt claimed to have negotiated a cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Palestinians in which quiet would be met with quiet. But while Hamas reportedly said it would hold its fire, the terrorist group Islamic Jihad continued to strike at southern Israeli communities, leading Israel to retaliate.
On Monday, one rocket landed in the yard of a home in Netivot, damaging the home and two neighboring homes, and leaving 20 people requiring treatment for shock, a factory in the same town was also hit. Two rockets fired at the major Israeli city of Ashkelon were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system on Monday morning, and two long-range Grad rockets were intercepted over Beersheba late Monday afternoon.
The previous day, a rocket hit a home and a factory in Sderot. Also, several buildings and two cars in the Sha’ar Hanegev municipality were damaged in attacks. At least three Israelis were wounded. Israel’s military retaliated with strikes on what it called in a statement a terror tunnel and a weapon storage facility in the northern Gaza Strip, as well as a launching site in the southern Gaza Strip.
At least six Palestinians reportedly have been killed in retaliatory Israeli airstrikes on what the Israel Defense Forces called "terror activity sites."
Iron Dome intercepted a rocket heading for the major Israeli city of Ashdod on Saturday and a rocket targeting Beersheba on Sunday.
Schools throughout southern Israel were closed Sunday.
"As far as Israel is concerned, Hamas is responsible for the rocket fire and all other attempts to harm our soldiers and civilians [from Gaza], even when other groups participate," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told journalists on Sunday. "And it is Hamas that will pay the heavy price; a price that will be painful."
Barak added that Israel "will strike with an ever-growing intensity."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet that "The world must understand that Israel will not sit with its hands crossed."
On Saturday, four Israeli soldiers were injured when an anti-tank missile hit an IDF jeep patrolling the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip.
The IDF responded Saturday night by targeting several of what it called "terror activity sites" in Gaza, leaving four Palestinians dead and dozens wounded.