Lone rocket hits Israel as Gaza truce firms up
AFP JERUSALEM JUST one rocket was fired from Gaza into Israel during the first 12 hours of Friday, the military said, as a fledgling truce in and around the Palestinian territory firmed up.
“Only one rocket has been fired at Israel since midnight (2200 GMT) on Thursday, an army spokeswoman told AFP early on Friday afternoon.
“It hit an uninhabited area of the northwestern Negev” desert, she added. Schools in several areas of southern Israel, including the main Negev city of Beersheva and the Mediterranean coastal towns of Ashdod and Ashkelon, remained close as a precaution, however, public radio reported.
On Thursday, militants fired five rockets from Gaza but none caused any casualties. Israeli assault helicopters opened fire on the northern Gaza Strip in response, a Palestinian security source said, although there was no confirmation from the Israeli military.
Israel and the Islamic Jihad group, which was responsible for much of the rocket fire during a major upsurge in cross-border violence though last weekend, agreed on Tuesday to begin observing an Egyptian-brokered truce.
Israeli army spokeswoman Avital Leibovich told reporters on Thursday that since the violence erupted last Friday, Palestinians had fired more than 310 rockets at Israel of which “170 rockets or so” struck the Jewish state.
Several fell short inside Gaza and 60 were destroyed by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.
A chain of Israeli air strikes and Palestinian rocket salvoes started when Israel killed Zuhair al-Qaisi, head of the radical Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees, prompting other militant groups to fire rockets over the border.
The army said Qaisi had planned a deadly attack last August — when militants sneaked across the border from the Sinai Peninsula and killed eight Israelis — and accused him of planning a repeat attack “in the coming days.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned the truce will be short-lived if the rocket fire continues.