Several rockets apparently fired from the Sinai Peninsula fell Wednesday near a small Israeli rural community situated along Israel’s shared border with Egypt, adjacent to the Gaza Strip. There were no reports of injuries or damage.
“I counted three or four [explosions],” said Zion Leshem, a father of four. One of the rockets landed several yards from Leshem’s olive grove, where his workers were picking.
It was the first time that the town, most of whose residents were evacuated from their homes in the Gaza Strip during the 2005 disengagement, had sustained fire, Leshem said.
A source within the Southern Command confirmed that IDF troops were called to the border region earlier this afternoon, where they apparently exchanged fire with smugglers.
The rocket fire blasted a fragile calm that had settled over the region on Tuesday afternoon after four days of incessant cross-border fire.
On Saturday afternoon a Palestinian terror group fired an anti-tank missile at an IDF jeep patrolling some 150 yards within the Israeli border. Israel responded with tank fire and the ensuing conflagration resulted in over 160 rockets fired at Israel and a reported seven Palestinian dead in counterstrikes.
The group responsible for Saturday’s attack, the Popular Resistance Committees, is a radical Islamist group known to operate from within Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula, where this afternoon’s rockets were likely fired from. The PRC was said to be responsible for an August 2011 attack on Route 12, near Eilat, in which eight Israelis were killed.
At around the time of the shelling, President Shimon Peres visited the beleaguered town of Sderot, a regular target for rocket fire. He said that Hamas was responsible for the “insufferable” situation down south. “The responsibility is on them to control the other sub-factions. The incessant flow of funds [from the global community] to Gaza must stop,” he said.
Despite the lack of a formally announced ceasefire, the calm was credited to an Egyptian-mediated agreement between Israel and Hamas, which controls the Strip and whom Israel holds responsible for the rocket attacks, even if they were launched by other terrorist factions.
On Tuesday, media reports were full of talk of a possible Israeli ground operation in Gaza aimed at restoring deterrence, but as the day wore on and the frequency of rocket fire slowed with no Israeli retaliations, it seemed that the round of violence had run its course.
“Quiet will be answered with quiet,” an unnamed senior defense official told Maariv on Wednesday.
More than 40 Israelis were lightly injured, mostly suffering from shock and light shrapnel injuries, since the escalation began on Saturday.