Over 50 Palestinian rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel since the unilateral ceasefire began between Hamas and Israel on January 18. This is the third Hamas-Israel ceasefire held since November 2006.
Two Qassam rockets were fired at the Eshkol region early Thursday morning, on February 19. Around 7:18 am, the Tzeva Adom sounded, followed by the rocket attacks. A third rocket had exploded earlier on the Gaza side. At 6:00 in the evening, the Tzeva Adom set off again–this time in Sderot. A loud explosion followed, with the rocket slamming in the Sderot cemetery.
On Wednesday, February 18, western Negev residents woke up to the sound of the Tzeva Adom, Color Red alert siren blaring at 7:40 am in the morning. A Palestinian rocket fired from Gaza slammed into the Sha’ar HaNegev kibbutz causing no reported damages or injuries. Late Wednesday night, a mortar rocket from Gaza was fired at Sdot Negev region as well. No physical injuries or damages were reported in any of the terror incidents.
There have been at least five Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks on Israel in the past six days.
On Friday, February 13, Palestinian terrorists fired three rockets at Israel, striking the Sderot area. A week before on Friday, February 6, a Palestinian rocket fired from northern Gaza struck Ashkelon at 9: 30 am morning. Another Qassam rocket hit the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council area earlier in the morning the same day.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated after the Ashkelon attack that Israel is not gearing up for a second offensive in the Gaza Strip.
According to YNET News, (February 6, 2009) Barak stated that:
“We have no intention of embarking on Operation Cast Lead number two. We said there would be a response (to the rocket fire) and we responded,” he said, “Our deterrence is intact. Hamas is barely picking up the pieces and is looking for a lull. If we play our cards right and prevent further escalation than we have a good chance of some peace and quiet.”
The IDF has responded to the attacks on Wednesday, February 18, by striking seven smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border and a Hamas security base near Khan Yunis.
Previous ceasefires with Hamas have fraught with rocket fire violations. During the first ceasefire held with Hamas from November 11, 2006 to May 15, 2007, over 315 rockets struck Israel throughout the six-month ceasefire. During the second ceasefire, held between June 19 to December 19, 2008, over 538 Qassam and mortar rockets slammed into Israel.
*Jerusalem Post and YNET News contributed to this report.