Kassam Attacks Continue as IDF Operation in Gaza Moves Ahead

Kassam attacks from northern Gaza continued over the weekend, as IDF troops pushed on in their bid to end the rocket fire and force terrorists to return the soldier captured in a raid on June 25th.

Hana Levi Julian , | updated: 00:11

At least 15 rockets landed in Israel on Friday, and at least one reported on Saturday. Most of the rockets landed in the Sderot area.

Three residents were wounded by shrapnel when one of the rockets just barely missed a school building. They were taken to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. Four more were treated for shock. Attacks on nearby areas hit a factory and a cemetery touching off fires are both locations.

Two rockets landed in fields. One rocket landed less than a kilometer from nearby Netivot, the first time a rocket has landed so close to the town. Residents in Netivot, however, said they often hear the Kassams landing in the Sderot area.

Another Kassam fell near Sderot on Saturday morning. No one was injured and no damage was reported, according to Israel Radio. Two new long-range rockets reached Ashkelon last week, including one direct hit in the center of the city.

Despite the repeated IDF statement that the military operation is aimed at achieving the safe return of captive Cpl. Gilad Shalit as well as ending rocket fire and terror attacks, an IDF officer said the army will not be able to bring a complete halt to the Kassam attacks on southern Israel.

IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said Friday that the army plans to expand operations against the terrorists and their infrastructure, but it “doesn’t mean there won’t be Kassam fire if we leave tomorrow or the day after,” according to the Haaretz news service. “But it does mean,” he added, “that terror organizations will pay a high price for every Kassam fired.”

The IDF, meanwhile, continued to press its attack on Saturday, with some15 tanks rolling through the Karni border crossing to engage in fierce fighting in the neighborhood of Sajaiyeh in Gaza City.

The Givati Brigade and armored corps also fought with local terrorists in the area while the IAF carried out an air strike on another group of terrorists at the outskirts of the neighborhood. Israel Radio reported that three Hamas terrorists were killed by tank shells.

Fighting was also reported in the area between Gaza City and the Karni crossing, and in southern Gaza at the Sufa checkpoint.

By Saturday evening, IDF forces had withdrawn from several positions in northern Gaza, according to the Reuters news service, including the Erez industrial zone, Beit Lahiyeh, Beit Hanoun and three former Jewish communities in Gush Katif that were destroyed during the expulsion last summer.

An IDF spokesman said, however, that the pullout does not mean military activity in the area is over. “We are acting at our own discretion and we do not rule out a return to these areas,” he said. “The operation is not over.”