After several weeks of relative calm in Israel’s south, terrorists in Gaza renewed their rocket fire Wednesday night, launching a barrage of eight rockets into Israeli communities near the Gaza border.
The rockets landed in open areas in the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council. A Color Red alarm was activated before the rockets exploded. No injuries or damage were reported.
The Israel Air Force responded to the rocket fire by firing warning shots in the Beit Hanoun neighborhood of northern Gaza, Israel Radio reported.
Southern regional council heads said the rockets landed in an area, located between 4.5 kilometers and 7 km. from the Gaza border, that is not protected by the Iron Dome system and also lacks fortified shelters and spaces for residents.
An IDF officer from one of the Sha’ar Hanegev communities said, “The Palestinians took advantage of the heavy rain this week since they know that the [army’s] recognition and location systems have difficulty identifying the source of fire in bad weather.”
In the wake of the renewal of rocket fire, residents of Sha’ar HaNegev were asked to remain near protected spaces. Head of the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council Alon Shuster said, “The relative quiet we experienced in recent weeks was only imagined, and the country should rely on Hamas’ alleged willingness to maintain quiet.”
Other southern regional council heads reiterated their calls for the government to build more shelters in the area.
Meanwhile, relatives of Palestinians held in Israeli jails have hurled slippers at an armored vehicle carrying visiting U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon into the Gaza Strip.
Ban is currently visiting Israel and is expected to tour the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council and Sapir College on Thursday, in an attempt to get a sense of the security situation there. During his visit to the area, Ban is also scheduled to meet with Zion Yemini, the driver of the school bus that was hit by an anti-tank missile fired from Gaza last April which resulted in the death of 16-year-old Daniel Viflic. Yemini told Israel Radio, “I’ll try to explain to Ban Ki-moon how strange our lives are here, how our children have to go to school under a daily threat.”
While he was crossing into Gaza, about 40 relatives of Palestinian prisoners gathered at the Erez Crossing between Gaza and Israel, hoisting posters with pictures of their loved ones and signs in English and Arabic reading, “Ban Ki-moon, enough bias to Israel.”
Two of them threw slippers at his car.
The relatives formed a human chain at the crossing in an effort to block Ban’s vehicle, but Hamas security forces moved them away so he could enter Gaza.
Israel holds about 7,000 Palestinian prisoners. Relatives of prisoners from Gaza haven’t been able to visit them in jail since 2006.