Qassam Fired From Gaza Hits Ashkelon; IAF Strikes Rocket Launcher

No injuries or damage reported from Qassam strikes; Palestinians report no casualties from IAF action.

A barrage of Qassam rockets and mortar shells was fired on Saturday from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, striking targets as far north as Ashkelon.

No injuries were reported in the attacks.

Late Saturday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered Israel's border crossings with Gaza to remain closed Sunday in response to the rocket fire, his office said.

Also Saturday, an Israel Air Force aircraft targeted a rocket launcher in Gaza, apparently striking him, but Palestinian security officials said there were no casualties.

Gaza militants fired four Qassam rockets and at least ten mortar shells at the Negev region on Saturday, in addition to six Qassams that pelted area on Friday.

One rocket hit the industrial zone in southern Ashkelon, while two others struck open areas in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. A mortar shell was also fired.

Earlier Saturday, a mortar shell exploded near the Gaza border town of Kerem Shalom while another landed in the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reported. No one was injured by the projectiles.

On Friday, one rocket exploded in a residential area of the western Negev towno of Sderot, and another landed on the grounds of the Sha'ar Hanegev regional council.

Earlier Friday, a Qassam exploded near Sderot and a mortar round also landed in Sha'ar Hanegev. Two more rockets exploded near the Eshkol regional council. No injuries and damage were reported in any of these incidents.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah's military wing, claimed responsibility for launching two Qassam rockets at Israel, Army Radio reported on Saturday morning. The group said the shooting was in response to Jewish settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, Palestinians hurled two Molotov cocktails on Friday afternoon at Israeli motorists driving near the West Bank village of Azun east of Qalqilyah. No injuries were reported, although one car did sustain damage. Israel Defense Forces soldiers combed the area in search of the perpetrators.

The launching of Qassam rockets prompted Israel to maintain the closure of the Gaza Strip's border crossings for the entire week. Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday authorized the entry of 40 trucks carrying basic foodstuffs, 30 trucks filled with cereal, and industrial fuel for the power station.