A Grad rocket landed in the yard of a house in the southern city of Netivot Monday morning. No one was injured, but the explosion caused damage to the building and its surroundings, leading to power outages in parts of the city. Twenty-six people were treated for shock.
Eleven additional rockets were fired towards the Hof Ashkelon and Eshkol regions. Nine landed in open unpopulated areas and caused no injuries or damage. The other two were shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
The rocket fire came after roughly eight hours of calm amid reports of an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, following two days in which more than 140 rockets and mortars were fired on Israel’s south by Gaza terrorists.
Netivot Mayor Yehiel Zohar said that only schools that have proper bomb shelters would be opened in the city.
Finance Minster Yuval Steinitz, in a speech at Bar-Ilan University on Monday, said Israel had not ruled out the possibility of a “decisive strategic military operation” in response to the fire, but did not spell out what such a move would entail.
Eshkol regional council head Haim Yalin said that even one rocket was too much and demanded that the government take action to end the violence. He said it wasn’t up to him to offer solutions, but noted that Israel had two options, either to carry out a strike decisive enough to convince the terrorists to put down their arms, or to reach a diplomatic solution with Gaza’s rulers.
“I expect any government to take measures, no matter which party wins the elections,” Yalin said.
Also Monday, IDF Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz held consultations with Southern Command head Tal Russo and other senior officers to decide on the army’s course of action.
Egypt’s Ambassador to the Palestinian Authority Yasser Othman said his country was conducting “intensive dialogues” with all of the parties in order to bring about a truce, Walla News reported.
“We call on Israel to cease its attacks on Gaza immediately,” said Othman.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton condemned the Palestinian rocket fire and called on both sides to refrain from exacerbating the situation. In a statement, Ashton said she supported the Egyptian mediation efforts.
Overnight, the Israeli Air Force struck three terror targets in the Gaza Strip. According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, the IAF achieved direct hits on a terrorist tunnel and a weapons storage site in northern Gaza, as well as a rocket-launching site in the southern part of the Strip.
On Sunday evening, a Kassam rocket hit a house in the southern Israeli city of Sderot. The family inside the house had taken cover in a secure space and was unharmed, but the building itself was severely damaged.
Another rocket from the Strip hit a building in Shaar Hanegev.
Four Israelis were injured in the two-day barrage.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak made clear Sunday that Israel would not hesitate to reenter Gaza: “If we are forced to go back into Gaza in order to deal Hamas a [serious] blow and restore security for all of Israel’s citizens, then we will not hesitate to do so,” he said.
Schools in other communities surrounding the Gaza Strip were scheduled to reopen Monday, after having been closed due to rocket fire on Sunday.
In northern Israel on Sunday, the IDF fired an anti-tank missile into Syria in the first such incident since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
The Israeli missile was fired as a warning shot, according to the IDF spokesman, after a Syrian mortar shell reportedly landed on an unmanned army post in the eastern Golan Heights.