Hamas arrests terror cell responsible for rocket fire on Israel

Palestinian sources say radical group that splintered from ‘more moderate’ Hamas fingered for recent barrage

Masked Palestinian militants in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip, June 12, 2014 (photo credit: AFP/MOHAMMED ABED)
Masked Palestinian militants in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip, June 12, 2014 (photo credit: AFP/MOHAMMED ABED)

Palestinian sources in Gaza said Hamas’s internal security forces arrested the terror cell responsible for firing rockets at southern Israel Monday and Tuesday.

The arrests were not reported by Palestinian media.

The identity of the group is as yet unknown. However, it apparently belonged to a extremist faction that split from Hamas because it deemed the Gaza-ruling organization not radical enough.

There has been a stream of missile attacks from Gaza in recent days amid tensions over the kidnapping of three Israeli teens in the West Bank and the ensuing Israeli military operation to recover them.

Military officials say 20 to 30 rockets have been fired at Israel in the last two weeks, with at least five being launched on Tuesday night.

One rocket exploded in the western Negev. There were no injuries but there was minor damage. Two more rockets were intercepted by Iron Dome batteries over Ashkelon and another two landed in the Gaza Strip, killing a toddler and injuring three people, including two children. A Hamas medical official said it was not clear whether the rocket that caused the casualties had misfired or whether Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defense system caused it to explode over Palestinian territory.

Israel has responded to the rocket strikes with late-night air raids over Gaza.

Despite the arrests, Hamas senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar struck a combative tone, warning Tuesday that Hamas’s rockets and missiles have the capability of striking any city in Israel.

He added that the terror organization’s missile arsenal has improved significantly and that it is working day and night to dig new tunnels and upgrade its resistance capabilities.

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