Grad missile hits Be'er Sheva / archive
Grad missile hits Be'er Sheva / archiveIsrael news photo: Screenshot

Salafist terrorists’ claim of launching missile attacks on southern Israel Saturday night exposes a growing difficulty for Hamas to maintain control over the Gaza Strip.

One house suffered a direct hit from the Gran missile and sustained heavy damage. Another rocket landed in an open area in Be’er Sheva, Israel’s seventh largest city. Be’er Sheva shut down its school system Sunday morning in the wake of the latest attack.

"We claim responsibility for firing two rockets on Friday against the region of Sdot Negev," said the statement signed by the hard-line Islamist splinter group called the Mujahedeen Shura Council and reported by the French AFP news agency.

Two other rockets were fired on the Western Negev on Friday and landed in open areas,

The Salafists demanded Gaza's Hamas rulers release one of its members, Mohammed Rashwan, who was wounded last month in an Israeli air raid against the southern Gaza town of Rafiah.

They accused Egyptian investigators of taking part in Hamas' interrogation of the prisoner, while urging the "Arab nation to exert pressure on Hamas to stop unfairly pursuing Mujahedeen Shura Council member," according to AFP.

The Salafist party in Egypt is part of the ruling Islamic coalition headed by the Muslim Brotherhood, which was elected on a strong anti-Israel platform but which since has tried to show the United States it is not about to break the 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

Rifts between Hamas and rival terrorist groups have become commonplace the past year as Hamas faces charges of corruption and of stagnating the economy by heavy taxes and diverting imports for its own use.

The IDF has not yet responded to Saturday night’s terrorist attack. Israeli fire killed six terrorists in Gaza this past week, three by a tank shell east and three in an air strike on a car in the Al-Maghazi, in retaliation for a resumption of missile attack

 The IDF said the attacks targeted terrorists preparing attacks, and Gaze sources told foreign media that those killed were “civilians.”