Rocket attacks stepped up during talks


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Rocket attacks on southern Israel from Gaza have increased dramatically following the opening of peace talks in the region.

Two Kassam rockets and nine mortar shells were fired on southern Israel Wednesday morning and early afternoon. One rocket landed in an industrial zone near Ashkelon; no injuries or property damage was reported.

It was disclosed by Israel Police on Wednesday evening that two of the shells contained phosphorus, which causes severe burns and has been banned by the Geneva Conventions.

In response, Israel’s Air Force bombed a terrorist tunnel in southern Gaza Wednesday afternoon, according to the Israeli military. The tunnel was used to smuggle terrorists into Israel to commit attacks against Israelis, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement. Palestinian sources said that at least one Palestinian was killed.

On Tuesday, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired a rocket-propelled grenade at Israeli soldiers guarding the border. No soldiers were injured and they returned fire. One Palestinian was killed and four wounded, Palestinian sources reported.

Since the beginning of the week, 14 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel, making it the largest number of projectiles fired from the Gaza Strip in a single day since March 2009, according to the IDF.

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and brokered by the United States resumed this week in the Middle East.

Prior to Wednesday, 10 rockets had struck Israel since the eve of Rosh Hashanah, including a rocket that landed between two day care centers shortly before children were scheduled to arrive.

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