Palestinians Fire Mortars Despite 'Truce'

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CBNNews.com - KIBBUTZ KFAR AZA, Israel - Palestinian terrorists in the northern Gaza Strip fired two mortar shells at southern Israel Friday, further compromising the tahdayeh (temporary calm), which went into effect nine days ago.

One shell exploded near Kibbutz Kfar Aza, where Jimmy Kedushim, 48, was killed by a mortar shell six weeks ago. The second shell landed in an open field. No injuries or property damage were reported.

Friday is the third day that Palestinians breached the truce agreement, which calls for a cessation of rocket and mortar shell attacks and a reciprocal halt of Israeli counter-terror operations in the Strip.

The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the 'military' wing of the Hamas terror organization, claimed responsibility for Friday's mortar shell attacks.

Thursday, Islamic Jihad took credit for four Kassam rockets launched at southern Israeli communities. Two people were injured and two suffered shock when one of the rockets scored a direct hit on a home in Sderot, causing extensive property damage.

On Thursday afternoon, the al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigades, affiliated with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction, took credit for a Kassam rocket that landed near a gas station in the Sderot industrial area.

Israel promised a tough response if the rocket fire continued once the truce went into effect.

Last Wednesday, the day before the truce began, Major General Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Military Bureau, said a single rocket or mortar shell attack would end the truce.

Gilad represented Israel in negotiations with Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who brokered the cease-fire agreement with Hamas.

"If tomorrow morning one single rocket is fired, it will be a violation of the agreement. There is no room for interpretation, and no mediating body is needed. We will not accept the firing of even one Kassam," Gilad said.

Instead of a military response to the attacks, Israel opted to close the border crossings, with the exception of the Erez pedestrian terminal.

On Sunday, following three quiet days, Israel had begun a gradual lifting of the economic blockade on non-essential goods entering Gaza via the crossings.

But the rocket and mortar fire put an end to that for now.

Hamas officials in the Gaza strip said the closures were a breach of the cease-fire and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Israel should allow the free flow of goods into the Strip.

But the Defense Ministry stood its ground.

"Any violation of the cease-fire will be met with an apt response on our part," one defense official said.

"At present time, we are focusing on the crossings and if need be we will turn to other measures as well. However, if the calm is maintained, we will also know how to uphold our end of the deal," he said.

On Friday, Israel allowed a limited transfer of fuel through the Nahal Oz fuel terminal.

Sources: Haaretz, YNet news, The Jerusalem Post, israel national news 

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Tzippe Barrow

CBN News - Jerusalem Bureau

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