Daily Israel Report

Hamas Launches Rocket Attack; IAF Retaliates

Sderot residents once again raced for bomb shelters, barely awake, at 6:00 a.m. Thursday. No one was injured in the Kassam attack.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 1/29/2009, 8:37 AM / Last Update: 1/29/2009, 9:07 AM

Israel News Photo: Flash 90

The Color Red incoming rocket alert roused Sderot residents from their beds at approximately 6:00 Thursday morning, barely giving the sleepy civilians time to scramble into shelters before a short range ("Kassam") rocket slammed into the community. No one was injured and no damage was reported.

The early warning system also sounded several minutes earlier in the Eshkol region, although it was not clear whether it was a false alarm, or if a missile had fallen in an as-yet-unidentified site.

Shortly after midnight, the Israel Air Force bombed a weapons depot in Rafiah. According to a statement released by the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, an accurate hit was identified. "As the sole authority in the Gaza Strip, Hamas bears full responsibility of all terror originating from within its area of control.  The IDF will respond to any terror attacks in accordance with decisions made by the Israeli government," said the army spokesman.

The IAF air strike followed a rocket attack at approximately 9:40 p.m. Wednesday, which exploded in an open area. Residents raced into shelters after three false alarms had sounded earlier in the day.

Eshkol Regional Council head Chaim Lin told reporters following the attack, "This is the first rocket since the ceasefire [began]. We hope that the Israeli government will not be drawn into a policy of restraint, and that they will respond with force in order to preserve the security of the residents."

Tit for Tat Policy Also Returns
The Israeli government has vowed to respond with military action to every attack, despite calls by U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell this week for Israel and Hamas to extend the "ceasefire." 

The terrorist organization, which controls Gaza, formally rejected Israel's ceasefire terms on Wednesday. However, Hamas and other allied groups have refrained from firing long-range rockets at major Israeli cities since the IDF ended its Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

Wednesday night's rocket attack followed a cross-border bombing by Hamas terrorists a day earlier that killed one IDF soldier and injured three others, including an officer who was seriously wounded.

Shortly after the bombing, the terrorists launched a follow-up mortar attack on southern Israel.

Meanwhile, IAF warplanes struck in response, targeting a terrorist who had carried out the attack on the soldiers. They also blasted a number of smuggling tunnels on the "Philadelphi" route that runs along the Egyptian-Gaza border.