Four rockets were launched towards southern Israel from the Gaza Strip early Monday morning. One of them was successfully intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. No injuries or damage was reported.
The rockets set off red alert sirens in the coastal city of Ashkelon and in the surrounding area.
The army’s spokesperson said IDF troops began searching the area for the remnants of the rockets.
On Sunday, two mortars fell in the Eshkol region, near the Palestinian enclave. In that attack too, no one was injured.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the launches, which came as Hamas tips into financial and political crisis after being cut off from neighboring Egypt by the new, military-guided interim government in Cairo. Hamas has also been challenged at times by more radical, armed Gaza Islamists.
Hamas has tried to mend ties with Egypt while appealing to rival Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose administration holds sway in the occupied West Bank, to abandon U.S.-sponsored peace talks with Israel.
It has also signaled readiness to fight again, taking responsibility last week for a tunnel which the Israelis discovered running into their territory from Gaza and said was likely intended for kidnapping soldiers or setting off underground explosives.
The attack came hours after Israel published the list of Palestinian prisoners it plans to release as a goodwill gesture to the Palestinian Authority in order to facilitate peace talks. Twenty-six Palestinians serving jail terms for crimes committed before the Oslo Accords will be set free on Tuesday, the second batch to be released since the peace talks were resumed in July.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, all of prisoners set to be freed are serving sentences of between 19-28 years. Of the 26, five will be released to Gaza and the rest to the West Bank.
So far this year, a total of 30 rockets have been fired at Israel, far less than the amount of rockets Israel was targeted with in earlier years. The relative calm is credited to a cease fire agreement reached with Gaza’s ruling Hamas organization following a mini-war last November, in which Israel laid waste from the air to much of the groups’ terror infrastructure, while Hamas and other groups managed to fire hundreds of rockets, with some even reaching Tel Aviv.
It was not clear if Monday morning’s attack had anything to do with the announcement of the prisoner release, but Palestinian terrorist groups have been known to respond to Israeli goodwill gestures with rocket attacks as a way to prove their independence from the Ramallah- based Palestinian Authority.
Meanwhile, Israeli security experts are describing defense cooperation with the Palestinians as better than they have ever been.
In an interview to The Media Line, Shlomo Brom, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies said that “This is the best security cooperation we’ve had in years,” and adding that “The Brom said that Abbas has paid a political price for his cooperation with Israel, with Hamas accusing him of “doing Israel’s dirty work.”
Iron Dome intercepts rocket over Ashkelon | i24news – Information has a new name.
Read : Head of Ashkelon Council: Gov’t’s decision to stop security strange – Israel News, Ynetnews.