JERUSALEM (JTA) — Schools were closed in southern Israel again as rockets fired from the Gaza Strip continued to strike despite a cease-fire.
The cities of Beersheba, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Kiryat Malachi and Gan Yavne canceled classes for Thursday after several rockets targeted Beersheba the day before. Schoolchildren in Netivot were sent home Thursday after a rocket landed next to a school that morning while it was in session.
At least half a dozen rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel by mid-afternoon Thursday. Two rockets fired at Beersheba were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
Islamic Jihad has denied responsibility for Thursday’s rocket fire, according to Haaretz. The military believes small, radical factions are firing the rockets.
Early Thursday morning, the Israel Defense Forces said it struck a rocket-launching site and what it called a "terror tunnel" in Gaza. "The targeting of these sites is in direct response to the rockets fired at Israel," including rockets fired Wednesday night against Beersheba, an IDF statement said.
"Hamas uses other terror organizations to carry out terror attacks against the State of Israel and will bear the consequences of these actions in any future operation embarked upon by the IDF in order to eliminate the terror threat and restore the relative calm to the area," the statement added.
Terrorist groups in Gaza began launching a barrage of rockets at Israel on March 9 after Israel assassinated Zuhir Mussah Ahmed Kaisi, leader of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza. The IDF believed Kaisi was planning a terrorist strike in Israel.
Since the violence began, more than 200 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip. Tens of rockets have hit Israel since an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire was announced at 1 a.m. Tuesday.