The IDF has confirmed that three rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel fell near Be’er Sheva, breaking a ceasefire set to expire at midnight and prompting the IDF to respond.
The rocket attack came hours before a ceasefire deal was exepcted to be signed in Cairo, but in wake of the attack Israel decided to recall its delegation, which was still in Egypt holding indirect talks with Hamas when rockets began to fall. The move seems to indicate that attempts at reaching a deal have collapsed. Palestinians for their part claim the IDF targeted Gaza before the rocket fire.
The rockets fell in open areas between Netivot and Be’er Sheva in the south and no injuries or damage were reported. This was the second time rockets were fired at Israel since a five-day ceasefire came into effect last Thursday. At the time, the IDF ary said Gaza militants had breached the truce by firing eight rockets at Israel shortly after midnight Thursday.
A senior political source told Ynet that Prime Minister Netanyahu Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon have ordered the IDF to respond to the rocket fire by hitting “terror targets.”
In a statement, the IDF said it was attacking targets throughout the Strip, and said it was “ready to continue and work to secure the residents of Israel.” Palestinians said that the Strip was sustaining IDF fire from both sea and air.
“In response to the breach in the ceasefire by Hamas, the prime minister and defense minister have ordered the IDF to hit terror targets in Gaza,” an official within the Prime Minister’s Office said.
Officials also said Israel will return the delegation sent to Gaza ceasefire talks in response to the flagrant breach in the ceasefire deal. Palestinians for their part claim the IDF hit farming areas in the Beit Lahia area, it is unclear if such an attack took place, and if so then when.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum did not take responsibility for the attack, but hinted of more rocket fire, saying: “If Netanyahu doesn’t understand … the language of politics in Cairo, we know how to make him understand.”
Local residents in Gaza said they saw militants attempt to fire rockets, and afterwards Israelis living near northern Gaza and the Be’er Sheva region said they heard a number of blasts.
Eyewitnesses in Gaza further said scores of people flocked to UN shelters, anticipating heavy IDF response fire on Gaza.
As of Tuesday morning that sides were still in Cairo working to reach a long term deal on Gaza after Israel announced it agreed to extend the temporary truce in Gaza for 24 hours while – at Egypt’s request. Reports about the content of the agreement have been plentiful and rife with contractions, with some expressing optimism and other foreseeing a renewal in fighting.
While Palestinian sources expressed optimism that the fighting would not resume at midnight, Israeli officials continued to emphasize that the IDF was prepared to resume its operations.
“We are prepared for every scenario. The IDF has made arrangements for a forceful response if the fighting resumes. In the Middle East you need a combination of force and resilience. The IDF has the necessary force, and the ‘eternal people’ have proved they are not afraid of a winding road,” said Netanyahu earlier Monday night.
He emphasized: “The combination of perseverance and fortitude will help us reach the aim of the operation – security and safety for all Israelis.”