Three Palestinians were killed Sunday morning in an Israel Air Force strike in the northern Gaza Strip. IDF officials confirmed that an Israeli aircraft attacked a group of terrorists who had fired a barrage of three Qassam rockets at Israel.
The al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad's military wing, claimed responsibility for the rocket fire.
Palestinian sources reported that three civilians, working as guards at a factory east of Jabalya, were killed in the airstrike. The three were identified as Zaher al-Ar, 40, his 18-year old son Yusuf, and Muhammad Abu Harbet, 23.
One of the rockets fired at Israel landed inside the southern town of Sderot. Two additional rockets landed in open areas in the Sha'ar Hanegev regional council. There were no reports of injuries or damage.
Several hours later, the IDF struck a Qassam launching cell in the northern Gaza Strip. According to military officials, the cell was hit shortly before it planned to launch rockets at the western Negev.
Sources in the Strip reported that two Palestinians were killed in the strike.
Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar, reported over the weekend that the American administration had given Israel a "green light" for a wide-scale Israeli military operation in Gaza,
According to al-Akhbar, diplomatic sources said that Israel had relayed intelligence reports to Washington explaining the pressing need for an extensive incursion, in response to the "escalation in the activity of Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip and in order to put a stop to their unprecedented armament efforts."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said last week during a visit to northern Israel that "every day which passes brings us closer to a wide-scale operation in Gaza. We would be happy if the circumstances manage to prevent it."
On Saturday, a Hamas gunman was killed and five others were injured as an IAF aircraft fired a missile at the vehicle they were traveling in, near a Hamas security compound south of Khan Younis.
Sources in the organization reported that the car was completely destroyed and that at least three of the gunmen were part of the group's security force.
The IDF reported that the IAF attacked a Hamas post in response to the organization firing four mortar shells at the western Negev on Friday. The mortars slightly damaged the hothouses in a community in the area.
On Thursday, nine Qassam rockets fired from the northern Gaza Strip landed in the Sderot area and the western Negev. There were no reports of injuries, but the rockets caused slight damage.
Hanan Greenberg, Ali Waked and Shmulik Hadad contributed to this report