Rockets strike Israel during humanitarian cease-fire

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Rockets fired from the Gaza Strip struck southern Israel two hours after a humanitarian cease-fire went into effect.

Israel halted its aerial fire on Gaza at 10 a.m. Thursday, as agreed upon the previous evening. The rockets violating the cease-fire targeted the Eshkol region near the Gaza border; no damage or injuries were reported.

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It is not known what group fired the rockets. Hamas was the only Gaza terror group to officially agree to the cease-fire.

The brief truce was to allow Palestinian civilians an opportunity to purchase food and other necessities. Most Gaza civilians have not ventured far from their homes since the launch 10 days ago of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge to stop rocket fire on the country. In addition to Gazans flooding supermarkets, hundreds reportedly lined up outside an open branch of the Bank of Palestine in Gaza City.

Israel agreed to a request from Robert Serry, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, to hold its fire for humanitarian reasons.

Prior to the start of the cease-fire, a rocket salvo was fired at several heavily populated cities in central Israel, including Tel Aviv, Petach Tikvah and Netanya. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted one rocket; the rest fell in open areas. Several rockets also targeted Beersheba.

Israel’s Air Force reportedly struck 37 targets in Gaza overnight. The Palestinian death toll since the beginning of the operation is above 200, according to Palestinian reports. One Israeli civilian has been killed since the beginning of the current conflict.

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