Rocket barrage from Gaza hits southern Israel


JERUSALEM (JTA) — One of more than 100 rockets fired at southern Israel in the past 24 hours hit a home in Sderot.

At least six Palestinians reportedly have been killed in retaliatory Israeli airstrikes on what the Israel Defense Forces called "terror activity sites."
Egyptian intelligence officials on Sunday began negotiating a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas, Haaretz reported. Both sides have agreed that quiet will be answered with quiet, according to the paper.

The rocket fire began Saturday night and continued throughout Sunday.  A factory in Sderot was hit Sunday morning, and several buildings and two cars in the Sha’ar Hanegev municipality also were damaged in attacks. At least three Israelis have been wounded.

Taking responsibility for the attacks, the terrorist group Islamic Jihad said it shot more than 70 rockets at Israel between Saturday night and Sunday morning, the Palestinian Maan news agency.

Maan reported that at least six Palestinians have been killed in Israeli retaliation on what the IDF said were weapon manufacturing facilities, weapon storage facilities and rocket-launching sites.

The Iron Dome anti-missile system 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.

"The firing [of rockets] has been relentless today," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told journalists 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. 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. The rocket attacks and Israeli retaliation continued on Sunday morning, killing two more Palestinian Gazans.

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