The Israel Air Force on Sunday attacked a militant cell in the Gaza Strip apparently poised to launch rockets at Israel, just hours after the Islamic Jihad announced that it had accepted an Egyptian-mediated truce to end a weekend of deadly violence.
One militant from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine was killed and another was wounded in the attack, according to a member of the group. Nine other Palestinian gunmen and an Israeli civilian have been killed since the violence began last week.
Militants in Gaza have fired dozens of rockets at Israel in recent days, 20 of them on Saturday and another 11 overnight on Sunday.
Three of the rockets fired early Sunday struck near Ashdod after the truce was supposed to go into effect. Two of those rockets were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missile shield and another struck the south, causing no casualties or damage.
The area fell quiet shortly after those attacks and by the afternoon no new violence was reported until the IAF attack. The Islamic Jihad announced in late morning that it had accepted the proposal for a truce and would adhere to it as long as Israel refrained from launching its own attack.
Islamic Jihad and two smaller factions claimed responsibility for rocket launchings over the past five days. Islamic Jihad has close ties with Iran and has chafed at the rule of rival Hamas Islamists in the Gaza Strip.
Southern District Commander Yossi Pariente said on Sunday that the police have been put on high alert in the area. All police officers' vacations were cancelled and additional police have been brought in from other districts.
Classes were canceled in most southern cities within 40 kilometers of the Gaza border. Ben-Gurion University, Sapir College and Achva Academic College have delayed the opening of the academic year due to the security situation.
Ashkelon resident Moshe Ami, 56, was the Israeli man fatally wounded on Saturday by shrapnel as he got out of his car to seek shelter from a rocket launched at the south Israel city. Magen David Adom paramedics took him to the hospital with serious stomach wounds, where his situation deteriorated and a doctor pronounced him dead.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now