Gaza rocket fire persists despite night of strikes

AFP , Wednesday 20 Jun 2012

Rocket fire continues to rain down on Gaza, entering its third day, resulting six Palestinians since the start of the assault

Member of Hamas's security forces looks at damage to Hamas compound after an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip, Wednesday (Photo: Reuters)

There was no let-up in rocket fire from Gaza on Wednesday, with at least 10 hitting the Jewish state despite seven Israeli air strikes overnight, police and the military said.

As the violence in and around Gaza entered its third day, Israeli police raised their level of alert in the towns and villages within rocket range, although there were no casualties in the latest strikes.

"We have raised our level of alert and reinforced patrols in areas near the Gaza Strip," said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

So far, six Palestinians have been killed and five wounded since the bloodshed erupted on Monday morning, but officials in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip said there were no casualties in the overnight air strikes.

"Overnight, IAF (Israel Air Force) aircraft targeted six terror activity sites in the Gaza Strip. Hits were confirmed," a military statement said, later confirming a seventh strike in what it said was a response to the persistent rocket fire.

Among the sites hit were a training centre used by militants from the Hamas armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, and several naval police outposts, Palestinian security sources said.

The raids took place several hours after a rocket ploughed into an Israeli border police outpost in Yad Mordechai, just north of the Gaza Strip, wounding four border policemen, one of them seriously, Rosenfeld said.

In total, 45 rockets hit Israel on Tuesday, all of which were claimed by the Hamas armed wing in a rare show of force. Previously, the group had been observing a de facto truce on rocket attacks.

As the violence rumbled on, a senior Gaza official told AFP that Egypt was in contact with Israel and the militant groups in a bid to restore the calm.

"The Palestinian factions are ready to return to the calm as long as Israel stops its attacks," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Giora Eiland, Israel's former national security adviser, said he believed that Hamas would "find a way to calm things down and return the quiet in the next two or three days after proving to the other factions that it is capable of acting against Israel."

"Neither Hamas nor Israel has any interest in provoking an escalation in the short term," he told public radio.

Short link: