Two Phosphorous Mortars Hit Israel as Tensions Rise

IDF bombs smuggling tunnel in Gaza, killing one.

In an escalation of tensions on Wednesday, militants fired two phosphorous mortar shells into Israel from the Gaza Strip. A total of nine mortar shells were fired on Wednesday, all falling in fields in the Eshkol Regional Council, causing no casualties or damage.

Israel responded by sending jets to bomb a smuggling tunnel in the Philadelphi Route. Palestinian sources said one person was killed and two injured in the attack.

IDF soldier Sept. 15, 2010 Reuters

Police sappers and the Israel Defense Forces said that even though the mortars contained phosphorus they were no more harmful than regular mortar shells.

Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yalin told Haaretz on Wednesday that "at about 6:30 in the morning the mortars began landing. By noon nine mortar shell hits had been identified, including two phosphorous ones."

Yalin said that "this is troubling because we realize that the more the peace talks progress, the security situation will become more tenuous. Hamas, an Iranian proxy, only knows Qassam [rockets] and mortars."

"We will continue our routines as much as possible in view of the escalating security situation. The educational institutions will work normally as all structures are reinforced," Yalin said.

Sdot Negev Regional Council head Meir Yifrach said there were "a growing number of mortars and rockets being fired on the area bordering the Gaza Strip. Every fall brings us back to those days of tension and fear. It is hard to describe what the children are going through in the area bordering Gaza at this time. We expect the Defense Ministry to deploy Iron Dome to the area around Gaza as soon as possible."

Iron Dome is an Israel-developed missile defense system designed to defend against short range rockets and missiles. The battery has yet to be deployed by the air force.