Rocket barrages day before truce: Sderot house hit; IDF retaliates
At least 29 Qassam rockets land in western Negev less than 24 hours before ceasefire agreement between Israel, Hamas goes into effect. House in Sderot directly hit, residents suffer shock. IDF retaliates by striking rocket-launching cells, injuring 3 gunmen
Despite the formal announcements from Jerusalem, Gaza and Cairo announcing the ceasefire agreement will go into effect at 6:00 am on Thursday, it was the routine of incessant attacks Israel's South awoke to on Wednesday. In the most recent attack a house in Sderot was hit directly, and ten residents suffered from shock. A woman lightly injured her leg while running for cover.
The Air Force (IAF) attacked two different rocket-launching cells in the northern Gaza Strip, which Palestinian sources said were responsible for the rocket barrage. The IDF stated that in both cases hits were identified.
With less than 24 hours to go before the ceasefire, Palestinian terror groups opened fire at Israelis on the border and launched at least 29 Qassam rockets and ten mortar shells towards the western Negev. Seven rockets were fired within the space of 15 minutesand landed in open spaces south of Ashkelon and in the Sderot area.
Removing Qassam from kibbutz (Photo: Tsafrir Abayov)
At 6 pm Palestinian sources reported that the army attacked two points in the northern Strip. The IDF confirmed it had attacked two cells prepared for rocket fire towards Israel. Three gunmen were injured in the strikes, one of which lost his leg.
The gunmen injured were operatives of the Salah a-Din Brigades, the PRC's military wing, and the al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad's military wing.
Earlier, three Qassam rockets fired from northern Gaza crashed into open areas near Zikim and the Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council at around 8:00 am. No injuries were reported and no damage was caused.
The al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for the barrage.
Sderot house hit by Qassam. (Photo: Ze'ev Trachtman)
Two additional Qassams were fired from southern Gaza several short hours later and landed in the Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries were reported. One of the rockets landed near a greenhouse and caused light damage.
Another 12 rockets were fired intermittently throughout the early hours of the afternoon, causing no injuries or damage.
Earlier in the morning Palestinian gunmen opened fire on a group of Israeli civilians involved in engineering works near the border fence. None were injured. The fire resulted in the closing of the Nahal Oz fuel
terminal, which has been the target of numerous attacks in the past.
Jerusalem officials warned Tuesday night they were concerned Hamas would try to use the remaining day before the truce to increase its attacks: "This is a day of trial preceding a long continuous trial period that, we hope, will culminate in the release of Gilad Shalit."
Shmulik Hadad and Ali Waked contributed to this report