IAF Air Strike Destroys Two Rocket Launchers in Northern Gaza Strip

IAF destroys rocket launcher in Gaza; One Qassam scores direct hit on Sderot home.

The Israel Air Force on Sunday carried out an air strike on two Qassam rocket launchers in the northern Gaza Strip.

The two launchers were loaded and ready to fire when they were eliminated.

Palestinians said four people were injured in the strike, including children.

Palestinian militants on Sunday morning fired 19 Qassam rockets and three mortar rounds into Israel, lightly injuring one person and damaging a private home.

Rescue services said one rocket scored a direct hit on a house in the town of Sderot, causing damage to the building. Maya Iber - who was on the lower level of her house while the rocket hit its top floor - was treated for shock.

"Everyone is traumatized," Iber told AP Television News.

A Thai migrant worker from moshav Nativ Ha'asara sustained light shrapnel wounds from mortar fire. He was evacuated to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.

The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad took responsibility for Sunday's rocket fire.

In response to the rocket fire, an Israel Air Force aircraft on Sunday launched a missile at a rocket launcher that had been primed and was ready to fire in northern Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Militants typically prepare rockets for launch and then fire them from cover a safe distance away. There were no reports of casualties in the strike.

Another rocket landed in an industrial zone in Ashkelon, a city of about 120,000 people 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Gaza.

Ashkelon is the biggest population center in rocket range, and Israel has responded harshly to past attacks on the coastal city.

Additional rockets hit areas in the Eshkol Regional Council, Ashkelon Coast Regional Council and Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council.

The Islamic Jihad militant group took responsibility for Sunday's rocket fire. Abu Ahmad, a spokesman for the group, said Israeli citizen would "not sleep peacefully as long as Gaza children are not enjoying water, electricity, medicine and peace."

Sunday's rocket fire follows a weekend that saw 13 rockets and 20 mortar rounds fired into Israel's western Negev region on Saturday alone. No one was injured, but one rocket damaged a kibbutz building.

The renewed violence comes in the wake of Hamas' official announcement that it would not extend its six-month cease-fire with Israel.

The truce had frayed since early November, and rocket fire at Israeli towns has been increasing in recent days.

The government has come under heavy pressure to react to the rocket fire, but the military has so far been wary of doing so for fear of casualties.

Israel has largely kept the crossings into Gaza closed in response to the rocket fire, a move that has caused shortages of fuel and basic goods in the territory of 1.4 million Palestinians.