Eight Palestinians have been killed in Jenin, Nablus and Gaza and a house in Sderot was directly hit by a Qassam rocket since Saturday morning.
On Sunday morning, two Palestinian gunmen were killed by IDF fire during an operation in Nablus. An IDF soldier was lightly injured in the incident. Shortly afterwards, Palestinian gunmen fired a Qassam rocket at Israel.
The rocket landed near the southern town of Sderot, and there were no reports of injuries.
One of the gunmen killed in Nablus were identified as Amin Lubada, who was involved in carrying out terror attacks in central Israel and in the production of explosive devices and explosive belts. He had been financed by Iranian elements and Hizbullah.
The other gunman was identified as Fadel Nir, a senior Islamic Jihad member, who was also involved in planning terror attacks, recruiting suicide bombers and producing explosive belts.
Five Palestinians were killed
in the Jenin area on Saturday. In the most recent operation, which took place at around 11 pm, the sister of a wanted Islamic Jihad member was killed.
Earlier, a Border Guard force killed three gunmen in the same area. A Palestinian police officer was killed in exchanges of fire between IDF soldiers and gunmen in the village of Kafr Dan, near Jenin.
One of the gunmen killed, Abbas Damaj, was closely associated with Zakaria Zubeidi, the commander of al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in Jenin.
Zubeidi told Ynet in response that he and his men would not ignore the incident.
"This action will not frighten us. Lately we have been committed to the calm, but the Israelis have proven that they are not interested in it. From this moment on we are no longer committed to the calm. Our response will be harsh, painful and deep within Israel."
Several hours later, exchanges of fire erupted in Jenin once again, as soldiers launched a detention operation. Explosive devices were hurled at the troops. The force claimed it spotted gunshots fired from a house's window, and fired back at a gunman standing at the window. Later, Palestinians reported that a teen girl was killed in the incident.
Car attacked in Gaza Strip (Photo: AFP)
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of the Hamas condemned the killings in a statement.
“These crimes are new proof on the brutality of the occupation (Israel), its pursuit of liquidation and is a futile attempt to break the will of the Palestinian people and push them to surrender,” the statement read.
The Islamic Jihad fired three Qassam rockets at Israel in response to the Jenin casualties. One of the rockets directly hit a house in Sderot. Six people suffered from shock, and three of them were evacuated to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. The other two rockets hit an open area outside the city.
Shortly afterwards, Air Force planes fired at the launching cell. Kemal Anan, who was in the gunmen's car, was killed. According to the Palestinians, the man was a civilian who was not involved in the shooting. The Islamic Jihad's al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for firing the rockets.
Israeli officials also linked the IDF's operation in Jenin with what happened in the Gaza Strip several hours later. A senior official at the defense minister's office said that alongside the army's policy in Gaza, it will continue to fight terror in the West Bank.
"This activity proves itself in thwarting terror attacks," the official said.
Yigal Babian, whose house was hit by a Qassam, said that "we were sitting in the living room and suddenly heard the whistle. The rocket virtually flew in front of us into the sitting corner. The entire house shook. We quickly ran to the shelter.
"The children panicked. My daughter-in-law, who is pregnant, was on the second floor and suffered from shock. She was evacuated to a hospital. We sat for a minute or two in the shelter, but then we understood that it was too late because the rocket caused damage.
"My grandchildren were playing exactly where the rocket fell, and moved from there 15 minutes before the hit. I have a son in the police and a son in the Israel Prison Service, and I still believe in the State. I am optimistic and I believe it will be okay. We have been through wars and worse things," he concluded.
The house hit is located close to the home of Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal, who is currently in New York. Talking to Ynet, Moyal once again accused the government of being helpless.
"I've said it and I'm saying it again: The Qassam rocket fire has not ended and unfortunately it will not end, and when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says that he has reduced the Qassam fire, then this is the answer unfortunately. The fire has not been reduced.
"The terror organizations in the Strip have Qassam rockets which will reach us one way or another today, tomorrow or any other time, and the solution to prevent this is to do something. So far, the Israeli government is not doing it," he said.
Ali Waked, Shmulik Hadad and Hanan Greenberg contributed to the report