Rockets strike Israel during humanitarian lull


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hamas rockets hit two houses in southern Israel during a voluntary Israeli humanitarian cease-fire.

Israel stopped fighting for three hours Monday, as it has daily for the past week, to allow Palestinian civilians to restock or change locations, and to allow aid agencies to distribute its goods during the 17th day of Operation Cast Lead. But Hamas continued to fire rockets at Israel during the lull, scoring direct hits on homes in Ashkelon and Sderot. No one was injured, although several people went into shock and the homes were badly damaged.

One rocket landed near an Ashkelon high school where students had returned and were holding classes in bomb shelters. Attendance, however, was very low.  

At least 20 rockets hit southern Israel Monday. According to reports, the number of rocket and mortar strikes on southern Israel has significantly decreased since the start of the operation.

Reserve soldiers have been sent into Gaza, an indication that the operation may be widening.

Overnight, the Air Force hit four weapons storehouses located in the homes of Hamas operatives, two tunnels dug under the homes of Hamas operatives and a smuggling tunnel on Gaza’s border with Egypt, as well as a rocket launching position. Israeli ground troops clashed with armed Hamas gunmen in the northern Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, immigration officials told a Knesset committee on Monday that the Gaza operation has not stopped African migrants from infiltrating into Israel from Egypt. Some 168 migrants entered Israel illegally in the first nine days of fighting, The Jerusalem Post quoted Yaakov Ganot, the head of the National Immigration Authority, as telling the Knesset committee on foreign workers.

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