December 19, 2014
Gaza rockets pepper Israel though truce called
Four rockets launched from the Gaza Strip struck Israel despite an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire announced by Palestinian faction Islamic Jihad after the most intense cross-border violence since 2012.
No one was hurt by the evening rocket salvo, the Israeli army said. With winter rainstorms keeping people indoors and Iron Dome interceptors shooting down some rockets, the two-day flare-up has been relatively free of casualties.
Israel's hardline Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called for reoccupation of the enclave, an unlikely step since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted with measured language.
Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed faction that has sometimes operated independent of Gaza's Hamas government, began the barrage on Wednesday after Israel's forces killed three of its fighters a day earlier.
Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batsh announced that the truce ending the eight-day war of November 2012 between Israel and Gaza militants would resume if the Israelis complied.
"Following intensive Egyptian contacts and efforts, the agreement for calm has been restored in accordance with understandings reached in 2012 in Cairo," he said on Facebook.
There was no public response from Israel, but a senior Defence Ministry official said earlier in the day he expected the fighting to die down soon.
Minutes before Batsh posted word of the truce, Israeli aircraft struck targets in Rafah, in southern Gaza near the border with Egypt, wounding three Palestinians, witnesses said. The Israeli military said "seven terror sites" had been hit.
On Wednesday, Israel carried out 29 air strikes and its tanks shelled militant targets in Gaza as Islamic Jihad fired 60 rockets. There were no casualties in Wednesday's exchange.