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Policeman picking up empty shell of Qassam rocket
Photo: Amir Cohen
Palestinians in Gaza fire 3 Qassams at Israel
One rocket lands in Sderot cemetery, two others in open fields, but no injuries reported; Islamic Jihad's military wing, al-Quds Brigades, claims responsibility for attacks, saying they came in response 'assassination of Palestinian activists in Nablus, Tul Karm'

Three Qassam rockets fired at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday night landed in open fields in the western Negev, police said.

 

One of the rockets landed near the cemetery in Sderot, but no injuries or damage were reported in any of the incidents.

 

The Islamic Jihad's military wing, al-Quds Brigades, claimed responsibility for the attacks.

 

The group issued a statement saying the attacks were in response "to the assassination of Palestinian activists today (Thursday) in Nablus and Tul Karm" and the arrest of a senior Islamic Jihad official in Nablus on Wednesday.

 

In the statement the group urged rivals Fatah and Hamas to overcome their rivalry, and direct their arms at the "the real enemy" - Israel – instead of killing each others in the streets of the Gaza Strip.

 

'Better late than never'

Defense Minsiter Amir Peretz picked the Israel Armament Development Authority (RAFAEL) to develop a system

against short and medium range rockets, which could provide an answer to Qassam rockets fired from the northern Gaza Strip.

 

The security establishment has been mulling the issuing of tender for the construction of anti-missile system since last summer's confrontation with Hizbullah, during which the Shiite groupe fired 200 rockets at Israel on average each day over 34-days of fighting.

 

The system will be functional in three years at least.

 

Sderot residents welcomed Peretz's decision to give RAFAEL the green light to develop the system.

 

Alon David, a Sderot community leader said: "Better late than never. The fact that the system will be functional in three years requires the Israel Defense Forces to carry out operations in Palestinian territory to protect Sderot's residents from the Qassam threat during this period."

 

Alon Shuster, the head of the Shaar Hanegev community near Gaza, expressed concern that Qassam-stricken communities will be exposed to wanton rocket attacks for three years or more until the system is deployed.

 

"The decision means that over the next three years or more there will be no security for the tens of thousands of residents of Sderot and other communities in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip," he said.

 

Ali Waked contributed to this report

 

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