Escalation in the South

Heavy Mortar, Rocket Fire From Gaza Hits Southern Israel

Hamas and Islamic Jihad claim responsibility for dozens of mortar shells, Qassams that hit the western Negev; no injuries reported, some damage to residential buildings by shrapnel.

Some 50 rockets and mortar shells from the Gaza Strip hit the western Negev area in southern Israel on Monday morning.

The armed wing of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group claimed responsibility for the rocket and mortar fire, apparently in response to an IDF strike on Gaza on Sunday that was aimed at two Gaza militants.

Monday morning's shells and rockets landed in open fields in the Eshkol Regional Council, with three reportedly hitting Kerem Shalom. Shrapnel from the shells caused damage to some residential buildings, but no injuries were reported.

On rocket hit near a petting zoo, killing a goat and injuring a number of sheep.

Residents were advised to stay near shelters as rocket and mortar fire continued throughout the morning.

Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yalin told Haaretz on Monday, "Since the morning hours dozens of Qassam rockets and mortar shells have been fired toward communities in the Eshkol Regional Council. Because of the protection and the discipline of the residents, there were no personal injuries, only damage to property."

He added, "I remind the government of Israel that not all the communities near the Gaza Strip are protected, and that it is proven that protection helps and gives patience to residents (living) around Gaza."

On Sunday, the Israel Defense Forces said it had fired on two members of global jihadist groups based in the Gaza Strip who had for years attacked Israeli civilians and troops and were also involved in weapons manufacturing.

The IDF named the two men as Mohammed Makawi and Talat Jarbi, and indicated the strike was aimed specifically at them. The Palestinians said that Talat Jarbi was killed in the strike.


One of the sites hit by the barrage of rocket and mortar fire, October 8, 2012.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz