Scene of attack in Ashkelon
Photo: Amir Cohen

Some 50 rockets hit southern Israel

IDF reduces number of airstrikes in Gaza while ground forces complete preparations for possible incursion. Palestinian gunmen significantly increase rocket fire; air raid sirens sound in Ashkelon, Gaza vicinity communities over and over

Operation Case Lead continues: The Israel Defense Forces continued striking targets in the Gaza Strip from the air on Monday. Due to the weather conditions, the number of sorties was reduced in the early afternoon hours.


Meanwhile, Palestinian gunmen significantly increased the rocket fire from Gaza, with some 50 rockets and mortar shell launched towards Israel since the morning hours.


The IDF's ground forces haven't started moving yet, but are completing the final preparations ahead of a possible incursion.


Photo: AFP


Palestinian sources in Gaza reported that one person had been killed in an IDF strike near the northern Strip town of Beit Hanoun.


Earlier, the al-Jazeera network reported that the IDF had attacked many targets in central Gaza, including the Palestinian Interior and Culture ministries.


Dozens of rockets landed in the Gaza vicinity communities on Monday afternoon, as well as in further towns. A rocket which landed in an Ashkelon construction site on Monday morning killed 27-year-old Hani al-Mahdi from the village of Ar'ur and injured 16 other people.


At around 12:15 pm, a Qassam rocket landed in a house's yard in Sderot and a missile hit central Ashkelon. Earlier, a Qassam rocket struck a house in Sderot and damaged a building and some vehicles. An elderly couple suffered shock.


In the afternoon hours, air raid sirens sounded over and over in Ashkelon, Sderot and the Gaza vicinity communities. Residents were ordered to obey the instructions issued by the Home Front Command.


Further developments:


  • The Turkish and Egyptian foreign minister launched a joint statement saying that the Gaza operation could deteriorate and endanger the entire region. The world continued to condemn Israel, as well as Hamas.


  • The Palestinian Authority announced that it was suspending its negotiations with Israel "until further notice".


  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert about the assault on Gaza that began Saturday. Merkel spokesman Thomas Steg said the chancellor and Olmert agreed that the "clear, sole responsibility for the situation lies with Hamas" for breaking a ceasefire.


  • Senegal's Foreign Ministry said Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal was ready to sign a ceasefire agreement for Gaza that would involve Israel ending its attacks and its blockade of the territory.


  • The Knesset held a special recess session, during which Arab MKs slammed the Israeli leadership. "You're counting bodies in exchange for Knesset seats," said MK Ahmad Tibi.


Ilana Curiel, Shmulik Hadad, Hanan Greenberg and Ali Waked contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 12.29.08, 14:26
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