Nearly 50 Rockets Rain Down on Israel Since Egyptian 'Truce'
According to the IDF, at least 47 rockets have been fired on Israel since 9:00 am Tuesday, when an Egyptian-brokered truce was meant to come into effect. A direct hit was scored on a house in Ashdod but no one was injured. Five rockets were fired at Rishon Letzion and intercepted.
Between 10:00a.m. - 11:00 a.m., four rockets hit open areas outside the Eshkol region. No injuries nor damage were reported. Sirens rang in the Eshkol region, Ashkelon, and communities near Gaza.
Between 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., the Iron Dome shot down at least two missiles over Ashdod, and sirens rang in Sderot, Sha'ar HaNegev, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Hof Ashkelon, Beit Raban, Gan Yavne, Kannot, Kiryat Malachi, Be'er Tuvia, and the Eshkol region.
Since 12:00 p.m., sirens sounded in Sderot, the Eshkol region, the Shefelah, Ashkelon, Ashdod and S'dot HaNegev; rocket fire was also spreading northward, with sirens in Rehovot, Yavne, Zihron Ya'akov, Carmel, Haifa, and Menashe. At least two rockets hit in Eshkol; no injuries or damage reported.
Since 1:00 p.m., sirens have sounded in the Shefelah coastal plain region and in Ashdod.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu delivered a message to Hamas Tuesday in a press conference, according to which the IDF operation in Gaza will continue and be widened, unless Hamas stops firing at Israel.
"If Hamas rejects the ceasefire, we will have international legitimacy to restore the necessary quiet,” he said, some three hours after the hour set for the ceasefire passed, only to be followed by more rockets from Hamas.
"The goal of the operation was and remains to restore quiet while delivering a harsh blow to Hamas. We have hit them very hard and we foiled attempts to terrorize Israel's population.
"We heeded the Egyptian offer in order to give a chance to demilitarization of the Gaza Strip by diplomatic means. If Hamas rejects this – and it looks that way – Israel will have all the legitimacy to restore quiet,” he added.
Israel accepted the truce in a surprise move Tuesday morning, after Hamas categorically rejected the notion of a ceasefire Monday night.
"A ceasefire without reaching an agreement is rejected. In times of war, you don't cease fire and then negotiate," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told AFP.
Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zahri reiterated this Tuesday morning.
"The idea of disarmament is not subject to discussion," he said, adding that "the Palestinians are on occupied land, so it has a legitimate right to resist."
In a statement issued around the same time, Hamas said it did not consider itself obliged by the Egyptian proposal.
"Because we were excluded from the consultations for this (truce) initiative, we are not obliged to abide by it," it said.
Meanwhile, an IDF spokesperson indicated to Walla! News shortly after the rocket fire that - truce or not - the IDF may enter Gaza after the attack on the Eshkol region.
"We are prepared to enter Gaza," he said. He added that the cease-fire agreement only stipulated that Israel would hold back fire if Hamas followed suit.
"All the options and related programs from Operation Protective Edge are still relevant," he added.
Rocket damage in Eilat: