Ashdod Grad rockets – 29.10.11
A car engulfed by flames after a Grad rocket fired from the Gaza Strip exploded in Ashdod, Oct. 29, 2011. Photo by Eliyahu Hershkowitz
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Gazan militants continued to launch rockets into Israel early Sunday morning, despite a report on Ma’an News Agency claiming that an Egyptian-mediated cease-fire would take effect at 3:00 A.M. A total of 31 rockets have been fired from Gaza since the beginning of the weekend.

Three rockets exploded near the southern Israel city of Ashdod on Sunday morning, and another landed to its east. No casualties or serious damage were reported. The Iron Dome missile defense system successfully intercepted a Grad rocket launched at Ashdod early Sunday.

Overnight, 11 rockets and mortar shells were launched into Israel. Most schools within cities of firing distance from Gaza canceled classes on Sunday.

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Egyptian officials said on Sunday that efforts to persuade Palestinian militants in Gaza to hold their rocket fire on Israel have failed.

The officials said they tried to arrange a cease-fire set at 3. A.M. Sunday, but did not win agreement from factions responsible for the rocket attacks. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the mediation efforts.

Southern District Commander Yossi Pariente said on Sunday that the police has 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 cancelled in most southern cities and Ben-University, Sapir College and Achva Academic College will not be starting the academic year on time due to the security situation.

Some 20 rockets and mortar shells were fired from Gaza into southern Israel on Saturday, with rockets launched at Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gan Yavne, and around Be'er Sheva.

One man was seriously wounded in Ashkelon and eventually died of his wounds. Another man was moderately wounded in the Ashdod rocket strike and three others were lightly hurt. Moreover, 17 trauma victims were reported.

Moshe Ami, a 56-year-old man from Ashkelon, was 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.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the mayors of Ashdod, Ashkelon and Be’er Sheva on Saturday night to show his support as rockets continued to fall. “The IDF’s harsh reaction (to the attacks on Israel), that have already hit three launch squads, will be even more severe if needed,” the prime minister assured them.

The Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Office confirmed that the Israel Air Force hit six targets in the Gaza Strip late Saturday night. A tunnel in the northern part of the strip was attacked, as were three dispatch position and two centers of militant activity in the southern part of Gaza.

“The IDF will not hesitate to act with determination and force against anyone who perpetrates terror against the citizens in Israel, until quiet returns to the region,” the Spokesperson’s Office said in a statement, adding that it places the onus of blame for the attacks on Hamas.

The rocket barrage followed an IDF strike on the Gaza Strip which resulted in the deaths of five Islamic Jihad militants.

As a result of the escalation, classes were canceled in Ashdod, Ashkelon and other towns in the 40-kilometer range from Gaza. Ben Gurion University in Be'er Sheva also called off classes, which were due to begin on Sunday.