Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip continued to fire rockets at southern Israel on Monday, despite the efforts of Egyptian intelligence officials to mediate between Israel and Hamas to reach a cease-fire agreement that would put an end to the cross-border escalation.
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- Odelia Ben-Porat / Red Alert in Sderot
Militants fired 10 rockets at Israel by mid-day on Monday. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted two rockets heading for Ashkelon. Another rocket struck the yard of a house in the southern Israeli city of Netivot.
The hit on Netivot left no casualties, but 20 people were treated for shock after the incident. Three houses were damaged by shrapnel.
Classes were canceled in all schools in Netivot that are not fortified against rockets.
An additional three rockets hit southern Israel overnight. The Israel Defense Forces bombed a smuggling tunnel and a weapons storage site in the orthern Gaza Strip 'in respons.
No deadline has yet been set for the commencement of the Egypytian-mediated cease-fire, but Haaretz has learned that both sides have said quiet will be answered with quiet.
More than 100 rockets have hit southern Israel since violence flared up on the border on Saturday. The IDF airstrikes in response have killed five Palestinians. Three people were lightly wounded in southern Israel in the rocket fire on Sunday, in Sderot and in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council.
The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted two rockets during the latest escalation, one aimed at Be'er Sheva on Sunday, and one fired toward the Ashdod area the previous day.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Sunday that Israel would act should a broader operation be needed in response to the attack.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier Sunday said said that the IDF will respond aggressively to any attacks carried out by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.
The rocket barrage that began on Saturday followed an earlier anti-tank missile attack on an IDF jeep near the border with Gaza, which wounded four soldiers. The IDF responded to the jeep attack with shelling on the Gaza Strip, killing four Palestinians and wounding 36.
The European Union on Monday urged Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip to halt their fire.
European High Representative Catherine Ashton said Monday that she was "very concerned by the latest escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel."
"I condemn the firing of rockets and mortars into Israel, and call on both sides to refrain from exacerbating the situation. Further regrettable loss of life and injury must be avoided," Ashton said.
"I support the mediation efforts by Egypt and reiterate that there is no place for violence in the Middle East. It is only through resumed negotiations that the legitimate aspirations of both Palestinians and Israelis will be met, through a two-state solution," she added.