Shortly after two Qassams land near kibbutz in Eshkol Regional Council in southern Israel, IAF strikes rocket launching cell in Gaza City. Hamas leaders in Strip hold consultations on ceasefire over weekend, convey message to Palestinian organizations to continue lull
|Latest Update:||11.16.08, 09:12 / Israel News|
| Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip reported that four gunmen were killed and six people were injured Sunday morning in an Israel Air Force strike east of the Gaza City neighborhood of Sajaiyeh. |
The casualties are believed to be members of the Salah al-Din Brigades, the Popular Resistance Committees' military wing. The IDF reported that it had attacked a cell placing rockets on a launcher.
Abu Mujahed, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees said that senior organization members were killed in the strike. "The occupation has harmed us and is killing our people, and we realize that the war has been reopened and that the enemy must prepare for a response," he added.
Earlier Sunday, two Qassam rockets were fired from the Strip. One landed near a kibbutz in the Eshkol Regional Council, and the second is believed to have hit the same area. There were no reports of injuries or damage.
It is still unclear how the IDF strike will affect the Egyptian efforts to mediate between the sides. The Hamas leadership in Gaza held consultations over the weekend in regards to the ceasefire with Israel, and decided to convey a message to the Palestinian organizations that the truce should be maintained.
Some 20 Qassam and Grad rockets were fired at the Gaza vicinity communities and the seaside city of Ashkelon over the weekends.
Mortar shells fired at Israel on Saturday (Photo: AP)
A Hamas member told Ynet that ahead of the talks on extending the current ceasefire, which ends on December 19, the movement will ask for a renewed discussion about the details of the truce, and particularly about the Gaza crossings.
Hamas will demands that the crossings are opened as the renewed ceasefire takes effect.
A movement operative noted that the ceasefire violations began when Israel launched a ground operation in Gaza and Hamas responded to the Israeli activity.
The man added that Hamas was exerting efforts in convincing the organizations to give a chance to a renewed truce, which will be more honorable as far as the Palestinians are concerned. He stressed that if the movement's demands are not met, the current lull would collapse and there would be no new lull.
Ministers at odds over response
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Saturday evening in regards to the ongoing rocket fire, "If there is lull and the time is not utilized for the next attack – there will be calm in return. If Israeli citizens are attacked – Israel will respond forcefully in order to protect its citizens."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, on the other hand, stressed that "the IDF is fully prepared for a strong operation that would be very painful for the other side, but two years ago we already witnessed what snap decisions can do to Israel's security," hinting at the Second Lebanon War.
Vice Premier Haim Ramon warned of Israel's poor hand on Wednesday night, saying the State was not responding appropriately to the continued Qassam attacks from the Gaza Strip out of fear that ministers and Israel Defense Force officers will be accused of breaking international law when going abroad.
"The government's role is to take the chance that we might not be able to travel to Belgium and eat chocolate, but that we fulfill our duty and defend the citizens of this State. We cannot manage the war against Gaza with our hands tied," Ramon said.
Meanwhile, the Ashkelon parents' committee decided Saturday night to open the schools in the city as planned on Sunday, despite the ongoing rocket fire. The Beit Yehezkel School will be closed due to parents' protest over the lack of fortification.
The parents' committee plans to hold demonstrations throughout the week in protest of the rocket fire.
Hanan Greenberg and Shmulik Hadad contributed to this report