Palestinian terror groups deny firing post-calm rocket at southern Israel
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Palestinian terror groups deny firing post-calm rocket at southern Israel

Gaza command center says launch of projectile likely ‘an individual act,’ as threat of renewed fighting in Strip looms

Fighters from the Al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad terror group's military wing, take part in a military march in the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on November 15, 2018. (Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90)
Fighters from the Al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad terror group's military wing, take part in a military march in the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on November 15, 2018. (Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90)

Sources in Gaza told a Palestinian news site that a rocket fired toward Israel late Tuesday that broke a shaky ceasefire may have been a rogue act.

The sources from the so-called joint command center of various Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip told Dunya al-Watan the organizations had no intention of firing the missile, which landed in an open area without causing any damage or injuries.

“The rocket that fell after Egypt brokered a calming could be a result of an individual act of one of the factions in Gaza. It is not a part of the command center’s activities,” the sources told Dunya al-Watan.

The command center includes Islamic Jihad and Hamas, the terror organization that rules Gaza, as well as a number of smaller groups.

The comment appeared to indicate that Hamas was not interested in a return to fighting.

Sources in Gaza were quoted by Hebrew media saying a delegation from Egypt, which has been a mediator between the sides, will arrive in the Strip on Wednesday for talks with Hamas leaders.

The rocket had set off fears of a new round of fighting between Israel and armed factions in Gaza just as the southern Israel began to return to normal following heavy cross-border fighting Monday evening and Tuesday morning.

A ball of fire lights the sky above a building believed to house the offices of Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the Hamas terror group, during Israeli strikes on Gaza City, March 25, 2019. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

The flareup began early Monday when a rocket fired from the Strip struck a farming community in central Israel, leveling a home, injuring seven people. That night, following a large exchange of fire, Gaza’s Hamas rulers announced a ceasefire and no further projectiles were launched at Israel since early Tuesday morning.

However, a senior Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, denied that a truce had been reached and threatened additional attacks on Hamas targets in the Strip.

“There is no ceasefire agreement. The fighting may resume at any moment,” the official said.

At the same time, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi ordered additional reinforcements to the Gaza border region following consultations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, and other top security officials.

Less than an hour later, rocket sirens rang out in the Eshkol region.

There are fears in Israel that violence will ramp up this week, with Hamas hoping to draw hundreds of thousands of rioters to the fence at the weekend to mark a year since the start of the so-called March of Return protests, which began March 30, 2018.

Hamas has attempted to explain several previous rocket launches as “mistakes” or the actions of smaller salafist factions inside Gaza that are seeking to put pressure on the group by invited Israeli reprisal attacks.

Israel holds Hamas responsible for any fire emanating from the Strip.

Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

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