Gaza militants fire Grad rockets, Qassam into Israel despite reports of cease-fire
Rockets fired at Ashkelon region, Qassam and mortar shells fired at southern Israel; rockets cause no casualties or damage; IDF strikes targets in northern Gaza Strip.
Three Grad rockets, a Qassam rocket and several mortar shells were fired into southern Israel on Sunday evening and early Monday morning, following earlier reports of a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel.
One Grad rocket was fired towards the southern Israeli region of Ashkelon shortly after midnight on Monday morning, which followed two rockets fired toward the same region at around 9:30 P.M on Sunday night.
Of the two rockets fired at 9:30 P.M., one was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, while the second rocket landed in an open area, causing no casualties or damage.
At around 10:30 P.M., a Qassam rocket was fired from Gaza and landed in an open area in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, causing no casualties or damage. Moreover, several mortar shells landed in open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council.
According to Palestinian reports, the IAF later carried out retaliatory strikes in the northern Gaza Strip and hit a terrorist cell, wounding several people.
A Hamas official said Sunday that all of Gaza's militant groups have agreed to a cease-fire with Israel, starting at 9 P.M. on Sunday evening.
The Grad rockets were fired at Ashkelon at around 9:30 P.M. local time in Israel, but since there is no daylight saving time in Gaza, it was only 8:30 P.M. in the coastal enclave, so the cease-fire was technically not yet in effect. However, the Qassam rocket and mortar shells were fired from Gaza after the reported cease-fire was supposed to start.
The Hamas official said earlier Sunday that Egypt helped broker the cease-fire, which will go into effect this evening. He says Egypt told the groups that Israel would halt its airstrikes only if the Palestinian groups stopped shooting first, and that Hamas security personnel would enforce the agreement.
Earlier on Sunday, AP reported that Israeli officials arrived in Cairo. Moreover, Israeli sources confirmed that the reduced IDF strikes on Gaza in the last 24 hours was an intentional move aimed at allowing Egypt to mediate a cease-fire, as well as out of fear for the defense and diplomatic relationship with Egypt.
Earlier on Sunday, Israel Air Force warplanes hit the town of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday, in Israel’s first military response in 24 hours to sustained rocket fire on its southern communities.
The latest round of violence began Thursday, when nine people were killed in southern Israel during a series of terror attacks whose perpetrators Israel believes entered viwa Sinai but originated in the Gaza Strip.