Gaza mortar shell hits empty field in southern Israel

In second attack this week, terrorists fire projectile at Eshkol region, but cause no injuries or damage

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Illustrative. A rocket is fired at Israel from Gaza on August 9, 2014. (AP/Dusan Vranic)
Illustrative. A rocket is fired at Israel from Gaza on August 9, 2014. (AP/Dusan Vranic)

A mortar shell fired by terrorists in the Gaza Strip apparently struck an empty field in Israel’s southern Eshkol region on Wednesday, in the second such attack in three days.

The army confirmed that its systems spotted the launch of the projectile toward Israel, but the exact impact site had yet to be found.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage caused by the shell.

Warning sirens were not triggered by the launch, apparently because the mortar shell was heading toward an unpopulated area.

A police officer inspects a rocket that was fired at the Eshkol region of southern Israel by terrorists in the Gaza Strip on January 1, 2018. (Israel Police)

It was the third projectile to hit Israeli territory in under a week. There have also been a number of unsuccessful attempts, in which rockets and mortars were launched at Israel but failed to clear the border, landing instead inside Gaza.

On Monday night, terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket at Israel that also hit an open field in the Eshkol region, causing neither injury nor damage.

On Friday, terrorists in Gaza fired three mortar shells at southern Israel, apparently in an attempt to interrupt a ceremony for a fallen IDF soldiers whose remains are being held by Hamas in the coastal enclave. Two of them were shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense system, while the third struck an Israeli community on the border, causing light damage to a building.

On Wednesday, the military completed an investigation of the Friday attack, determining it to have been the work of the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group.

Israelis take cover during a rocket attack siren warning at Kibbutz Kfar Aza, near the Israel and Gaza border, Israel, December 29, 2017. Israelis had gathered there to mark the birthday of Oron Shaul, who was killed during the last war in Gaza; Hamas holds his remains. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The recent attacks came two weeks after a period of near-daily attacks earlier in December. The past month has seen the largest incidence of rocket fire from the Strip since the 2014 Israel-Hamas war.

According to Israeli assessments, the rockets are not being launched by Hamas, but by other terrorist organizations in Gaza.

The army believes that Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, has been struggling to rein in other terrorist groups in the enclave and prevent them from carrying out attacks on Israeli targets.

Since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6, dozens of rockets and mortar shells have been fired at Israel by Gazan terrorist groups.

On December 19, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman described the recent attacks as the “price” Israel had to pay for Trump’s declaration.

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