IDF Says Hamas Responsible for Katyusha Fired From Gaza Strip

Grad-type Katyusha rocket strikes in area of Netivot in the western Negev; no injuries or damage reported.

The Israel Defense Forces said on Sunday that Israel held Hamas responsible for the firing of a Katyusha from the Gaza Strip at the Negev town of Netivot earlier in the day. (Click here for map)

The rocket, identified as a Grad-type Katyusha, caused no damage or injuries.

IDF spokesman Captain Benjamin Rutland said, "Hamas bears responsibility for all the terror attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip regardless of who actually fired the rocket."

He said that use of longer range rockets meant that they could be fired from deep inside Gaza, including from within heavily populated areas.

The Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the attack, which coincided with a number of mortar attacks on the Negev on Sunday.

The mayor of Netivot said that the government had denied the town funds intended for civil rocket defense. He said the stated reason for denying the funds was that the town is located 11 kilometers from the Gaza border, rather than within a 10-kilometer radius the government had set, Israel Radio reported.

The Russian-invented Katyusha has a longer range than the more makeshift Qassam rocket that has been fired by the thousands at Negev towns and villages. Most Katyushas fired in the region are fired by the pro-Iranian Lebanese Hezbollah organization. But Palestinians fired a Katyusha at the southern Israel city of Ashkelon a year ago.

Israeli security officials have expressed concerned that Gaza militants could fire large quantities of Katyushas into Israel. Army Radio cited Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin as telling the cabinet that Israel viewed with gravity and concern the militants' ability to strike deeper inside Israel.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak has said Israel is considering a sweeping military operation in the Gaza Strip to counter the almost daily rocket salvoes. Israel also has threatened to cut power it supplies to the territory unless the attacks ceased.

While Sunday's attack was not the first Katyusha to be fired out of Gaza, such attacks are extremely rare. The Islamic Jihad militant group claims to have fired about a dozen Russian-made rockets at Israel since March 2006, and to have many in their possession.