Trails of smoke are seen after the launch of rockets from the northern Gaza strip toward Israel.
Trails of smoke following the launch of rockets from the northern Gaza strip toward Israel. Photo by Reuters
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Israel has passed a message with a severe warning to the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip, warning them to immediately stop the deterioration of the situation along the border with Israel. Israel sent the message via Egyptian channels over the weekend to tell Hamas to stop all rocket fire against Israel immediately.

Despite the warning, a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel exploded late Saturday in an open area in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. No damage or injuries were reported. In response, the Israeli army struck two targets in Gaza overnight. The military said that both targets were hit.

The defense establishment feels that the joint warning from Israel and Egypt will have a restraining effect on Hamas, and that the leadership of the organization intends on acting to prevent the firing of rockets from Gaza at the Negev.

Over the weekend Hamas arrested a number of members of small organizations in the Gaza Strip in an attempt to rein them in and prevent rocket fire.

Late Wednesday night six Grad rockets were fired from the north end of the Gaza Strip at Ashkelon. Five Katyusha rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system, and the sixth rocket fell inside the Gaza Strip. No one was injured.

In response to the rocket fire, the Israel Air Force attacked positions of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

Militants from the Islamic Jihad in the northern Gaza Strip were responsible for  launching the rockets. But as far as is known, the Hamas leadership did not approve of the firing and it is doubtful whether the Islamic Jihad leadership even approved the launching of the rockets.

Most of the recent rocket launches against Israel seem to have been local initiatives of "rebel" activists, who are not following the orders of the central leadership of the organizations they belong to.

Israeli intelligence has the impression that the two largest organization n the Gaza Strip are not interested - for now - in a direct military conflict with Israel. Egypt is serving as a mediator between the sides, but Egypt has also joined n with Israel in warning Hamas to prevent deterioration of the situation. But Israeli defense sources say that without immediate steps by Hamas to prevent further rocket fire and against those behind the launches, a serious escalation is possible.

The IDF is continuing its deployment of the Iron Dome batteries in the south and is continuing its high level of alert, in case the rocket fire from Gaza starts again.

Israel Air Force strikes Gaza targets in response to rocket fire on January 16, 2014: