A Grad rocket exploded in a factory near Netivot, causing damage to the facility and the surrounding infrastructure. Several people suffered panic attacks.
The rocket was part of a salvo fired from Gaza just before 3 pm.
Earlier Monday, around 7 am, a rocket fired from Gaza hit a private home's yard, causing extensive damage buildings and infrastructure. Twenty-six people suffered panic attacks.
Two hours later, five additional rockets were fired from Gaza towards the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. One was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. The barrage was followed by a three-mortar salvo that hit open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council. No damage or injuries were reported.
Overnight, the IAF struck a tunnel and a weapons cache in northern Gaza, as well as a rocket launching site in the Strip's south, according to a statement released by the IDF
Spokesperson's Unit early on Monday.
A spokesman for the Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Abu Ahmad, said that Israel and the Palestinian factions reached a ceasefire agreement on Sunday night, but Israel violated the deal.
Rocket that hit Netivot Monday morning (Photo: Eliad Levy)
"The sides reached an understanding about a lull that was set to take effect yesterday at 9 pm," he said. "Israel did not abide by the agreement, bombing five targets early in the morning. The Grad rocket that was fired on Netivot was a retaliation to the Israeli violation."
Egyptian Intelligence officials were said to have brokered
an end to the current round of escalation in the south, Ynet learned Sunday. Sources in Cairo and Gaza said that the nighttime will put the ceasefire to the test and indeed, no rockets were fired overnight.
According to the Egyptian and Palestinian sources, Hamas
agreed to hold fire, but the Islamic Jihad
continued to launch rockets in the evening, prompting the IAF to strike.
The sources said that Israel
reportedly agreed not to retaliate over sporadic rocket fire from Gaza, as long as it was sans casualties. No Israeli source has corroborated the report.
Rocket damage in Netivot (Photo: Shai Peretz)
Beersheba and other southern communities decided to reopen schools on Monday, despite the tension. Netivot decided to open schools that were fortified.
"We heard a siren, ran for shelter and then the blast sounded," Herzl Zaguri, a Netivot resident, described Monday morning's rocket attack. "I don't know how long this will last. It's scary… Kids on their way to school are hysterical, and there's no one to save them."
Over 100 Qassam rockets, mortar shells and Grads were fired at Israel in the span of 24 hours, causing property damage but luckily not fatalities. The IAF struck several terror hubs in the Strip.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
announced Israel is bracing to face the international community over the possibility of stepping up its retaliatory efforts against Gaza. However, sources in the political arena said they doubt Netanyahu will go through with such a step, saying that Israel does not seek an escalation.
Defense Minster Ehud Barak
stressed that "If the need arises, we will expand our range of operations."
Barak said that Israel intends to deter Hamas from firing on civilians or attacking along the Gaza border. "This could last more than a few days and more than one round (of fire), but we are determined," the defense minister said.
Sources in Jerusalem said that generating legitimacy for a ground operation is more difficult than it once was, especially considering the international community's intolerance for such measures.
According a state source, Netanyahu wants "to create a reality where Israel isn't blamed for any future escalation."
"Holding off on retaliation now could allow for an operation when the time comes," an Israeli official said.
The prime minister has yet to convene the Cabinet, but he is scheduled to meet foreign ambassadors on Monday and explain that while Israel is exercising restraint, it won't allow rockets to be fired on civilians for much longer.
"The international community recognize Israel's right to retaliate, but it isn't rushing to sign off on an escalate response," a source said. "Netanyahu wants to create a situation where Israel isn't attacked in the international arena if such an escalation does occur."