GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Hamas fired rockets at southern Israel on Saturday, hitting a house and a Jewish seminary just hours after five Hamas policemen were killed in Israeli air strikes.
No one was hurt in Saturday’s rocket strikes. The newest round of cross-border attacks began on Friday when Hamas militants fired mortar shells that killed an Israeli man in a communal farm on the border with Gaza. The fighting is threatening fragile Egyptian efforts to broker a cease-fire on the Gaza-Israel border.
Hamas militants said they fired 15 homemade rockets at Israel on Saturday. The Israeli military said five of them landed, one directly hitting a house in the border town of Sderot, a frequent target for militants, another landed next to a Jewish seminary and another in the courtyard of a local college.
Nobody was hurt in the barrage, which came after Israel fired missiles at two Hamas police stations late Friday, killing five militants.
On Friday, Gaza militants sent mortars crashing into an Israeli border community, killing a 48-year-old Israeli man as he worked in his garden and wounding three other people.
Palestinian militants frequently fire crude rockets and mortars into southern Israel from Gaza, killing 14 people in all since late 2001. The attacks often provoke Israeli airstrikes and ground incursions that kill far more Palestinians, although hostilities have ebbed since more than 120 Palestinians were killed in a flare-up of violence two months ago.
The newest attacks make Egypt’s fragile truce efforts even more difficult. A spokesman for Hamas’ armed wing said his group would “continue fire until the last moment” before a cease-fire is completed.
Although both sides appear eager to halt the fighting, Hamas also wants Israel to end its blockade of Gaza, meant to pressure the militant group to halt Palestinian militants from firing their salvos into Israel.
The blockade has caused widespread shortages of fuel and basic goods in Gaza. Hamas wants Israel and Egypt to reopen its borders with Gaza, sealed after the militant Islamic group seized control of the territory nearly a year ago.
Israel wants Hamas to release an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants nearly two years ago.
The military said Friday that Palestinian militants have fired 1,950 mortars and rockets at Israel since the beginning of the year, almost equal to the amount fired in all of 2007.