Saturday, the heaviest barrage in two years, Israeli officials said.
back with tank fire and air strikes, said Gaza Health Ministry spokesman
Adham Abu Salmia.
the U.N. after Saturday’s unusually large barrage of rockets. In a
statement, Lieberman said the Palestinians “primary goal is destroying
Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his bitter rivals,
the Islamic militant group Hamas. Abbas is seeking U.N. recognition for a
Palestinian state by the fall and is currently lobbying for votes worldwide.
Hamas used force to disperse a reconciliation rally in Gaza. Some reporters
were later beaten up, threatened and briefly detained.
shells at Israeli border communities within 15 minutes. He said two Israeli
civilians were lightly wounded by shrapnel and residents were advised to
stay at home or in bomb shelters.
were of the same type as those intercepted on a cargo ship last week loaded
with weapons Israel said were sent by Iran to Palestinian militants in the
Hamas acknowledged it launched some of the mortars — an unusual move as the
Islamic militant group does not usually take responsibility for such
attacks. Hamas fears triggering another Israeli invasion similar to a
three-week operation aimed at stopping daily Palestinian shelling two years
ago that killed about 1,400 Palestinians.
Israeli police said the mortar barrage Saturday was the heaviest since that
round of fighting.
Israel holds Hamas responsible for all violence originating in Gaza, though
Hamas usually blames smaller groups for rocket fire.
Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said the shelling was in reaction to recent
Israeli airstrikes that killed militants. He warned Israel “not to test
Hamas ousted Fatah from Gaza in bloody street battles in 2007. Since then,
Hamas controls Gaza and the Western backed secular Fatah rules the West Bank.
Repeated efforts to reconcile the two rival governments have failed.
Palestinians have held rallies in Gaza and the West Bank in recent days
calling for the two sides to resolve their differences.
The internal Palestinian rift makes their vision of statehood harder to
achieve and hinders their ability to reach a peace agreement with Israel.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed last year over
disputes about Israeli construction in the West bank, areas Palestinians
want as parts of their future state.