Qassam Hof Ashkelon- Dec 21, 2010 Eliyahu Hershkovitz
A Qassam rocket that landed in the Ashkelon area in December 2010. Photo by Eliyahu Hershkovitz
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Three rockets fired from the Gaza Strip exploded in open areas in the Ashkelon region on Monday.

Two of the rockets landed in in Ashkelon's southern industrial zone and a third landed in the Ashkelon Beach regional council.

Earlier on Monday, the Israel Air Force bombed two sites in the Gaza Strip in what was described as retaliation against a rise in rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian militants from the coastal enclave.

The nighttime airstrikes targeted "terrorist sites" in the north and south of the Gaza Strip, the military said.

Since Friday evening, three rockets and five mortar shells have landed in southern Israel near Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Violence has escalated in recent weeks along the Gaza border, though both Israel and Gaza's Islamist Hamas rulers say they are working to avoid a full-on confrontation.

Hamas said on Sunday it had begun talks with other militant factions in the Gaza Strip to urge them to stop firing rockets at Israel, attacks that have raised Palestinian fears of a new Israeli offensive.

On Saturday, three foreign workers were injured when a mortar fired from the Gaza Strip exploded in the Sha'ar Hanegev region. Militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

The incident occurred less than 24 hours after an IDF soldier was killed and four IDF troops were wounded in a friendly fire incident on the Gaza border as the soldiers engaged a group of armed militants who were apparently approaching the border to lay explosives.

Also on Monday, Palestinian sources said that a 65-year-old Gaza farmer was shot dead by Israel Defense Forces soldiers near the border with Israel, Army Radio reported.

According to Army Radio, Palestinians reported that the incident occurred near Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip, two kilometers from the Erez border crossing with Israel.

The IDF had no comment at the time of the report.