One mortar, headed for the Eshkol Regional Council, was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome aerial defense system. The second reportedly landed within the Gaza Strip.

Rocket fire from Gaza | Archive

Rocket fire from Gaza | Archive Photo Credit: Nati Shochat, Flash90

For the first time since the unofficial ceasefire between Hamas and Israel came into effect three days ago, red alert sirens were sounded this evening (Saturday) in the Eshkol Regional Council in southern Israel.

According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, two rockets were fired towards Israel from the Gaza Strip, one of which was intercepted by the Iron Dome. It appears that the second rocket landed inside of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad announced on Wednesday morning that they reached a ceasefire agreement with Israel to return to the terms set during the Operation Protective Edge ceasefire in 2014. Hamas political bureau member Khalil al-Haya confirmed that the Palestinian factions would be committed to the ceasefire as long as Israel complied as well.

The Israeli government released no official announcements regarding the ceasefire. In fact, it would appear that Israel was not a party to what is ostensibly a unilateral ceasefire that Hamas and the PIJ brokered with an Egyptian envoy.

The IDF is therefore likely to respond to the mortar fire but will strive to avoid escalation and maintain the status quo. Though no official statement was released at the time of the ceasefire, an Israeli government official did issue a harsh warning to Hamas. “If the fire resumes,” he said, “the attacks on Hamas and its supporters will be even stronger.”

Meanwhile, Palestinians continued their protests today at several locations along the border fence. “Terror kites” flown into Israel from Gaza set fire to fields near Kibbutz Karmia. One terror cell attempted to cross the border into Israel when they were intercepted by an IDF patrol and fled back into Gaza.

On Friday, one Palestinian terrorist successfully infiltrated into Israel and planted a grenade that exploded shortly thereafter. According to the IDF, the terrorist managed to escape back into Gaza unscathed. Palestinian media reported that a 22-year-old Palestinian protester died from her wounds when she was shot in the head by sniper fire. 40 others were reported injured from IDF gunfire and 100 sustained injuries from smoke inhalation.