Gaza rockets strike Israel anew after lull

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 26, 2011 9:09 AM
Gaza rockets strike Israel anew after lull

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip landed in Israel on Saturday after a brief lull in violence along a frontier where tension has risen this week.

An Israeli general responded with a warning that Israel would not allow its citizens to remain under repeated fire and Gaza's Islamist Hamas rulers should "come to their senses" to prevent an escalation of hostilities.

Witnesses and a military spokeswoman said one rocket damaged an Israeli home before dawn while the other fell harmlessly in an open area. There were no casualties.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility issued by any of the militant groups in Gaza, a small, coastal Palestinian territory sealed off by Israel.

Israel launched a series of air strikes in Gaza this week in response to rocket fire, killing five militants and four civilians, and Prime Minister Benjamin has threatened a lengthy "exchange of blows" if the violence goes on.

Major General Tal Russo, the Israeli commander on the Gaza front, said as he visited troops on Saturday there were signs Hamas was losing its grip over other militant factions in Gaza. "There is anarchy," he said.

Asked whether he thought the situation could escalate into another war, Russo replied: "We are prepared for any possibility, the goal is we won't in the end permit a situation where it is impossible for civilians to live here."

Russo added: "The other side is showing a shortness of memory and I hope they come to their senses."

A 22-day Gaza war launched in late 2008 killed about 1,400 people in Gaza as well as 13 Israelis. Hamas had largely withheld rocket fire at Israel since then until this past week, though other militant groups continued shootings sporadically.

The Israeli military said on Friday it would soon deploy an "Iron Dome" interceptor missile shield to try and prevent further rocket hitting Israeli towns in its south, where some schools have been shut due to the days of rocket fire.

(Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; editing by Mark Heinrich)