Hamas Armed-wing Fires Heavier Rockets at Israel

Hamas armed-wing fired its longest-range rockets at a southern Israeli city on Friday after an Israeli air force attack on its Gaza stronghold, in the 11th day of skirmishes threatening a five-month-old truce.

A statement from the armed wing of the Islamist group said Hamas fired 5 five 1960s-era, Soviet-made Grad rockets at an Israeli town, the longest range weapon they have ever shot at the Jewish state.

Israeli rescue services said five rockets struck the southern coastal city of Ashkelon but caused no casualties. The Grad has a maximum range of 25 km (15 miles).

Palestinian medical workers said two Hamas fighters were wounded in a morning strike by the Israeli air force, which an Israeli military spokesman said was ordered in response to a Hamas rocket attack.

Hamas said it fired 8 shorter-range Kassam rockets in response, aimed at the city of Sderot.

Two hit the town causing damage to buildings, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. One Israeli was treated for shrapnel wounds, and a number of people were treated for shock.

Right-wing Israeli lawmakers called on Israel to end the truce and step up operations against Hamas, including strikes on the group’s leaders, Army Radio reported.

An Israeli military spokesman confirmed there had been an air raid but did not provide further details.

Rocket attacks from Gaza have increased since Israel stepped up raids against gunmen, killing 10 in two separate incidents since Nov. 4, in a flare-up that threatens a 5-month-old truce along the Israeli-Gaza frontier.

As violence continued to rock a five-month-old truce, Israel maintained a complete closure of the Gaza Strip, preventing delivery of fuel and humanitarian supplies.

The United Nations, which has been unable to bring in supplies since Israel sealed off the territory on November 5, said it had suspended its food distribution to half of Gaza’s 1.5 million people.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided on Thursday night to keep the crossings closed after four rockets were fired at southern Israel, a military spokesman said.

The rockets did not cause any casualties or damage.

Israel had said it would allow 30 trucks to deliver supplies to Gaza on Thursday after it sealed off the Gaza Strip on November 5, but later said rocket and mortar fire by Gaza militants made it impossible to do so.

Israel also cut off European Union-funded fuel supplies to Gaza’s sole power plant on Thursday, prompting it to shut down for want of diesel.

(Via Alarabiya.net)

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