Palestinian militants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip fired rockets and mortars into southern Israel today, despite an unofficial truce meant to defuse days of escalating violence.
Later a group that had held out from joining the cease-fire announced it would comply.
The Israeli military said 15 projectiles were launched at Israel overnight, most of which fell in open fields. No injuries were reported. Israel retaliated with an airstrike before midnight on Sunday that targeted a rocket-launching device.
A Hamas official said that militant groups in Gaza had agreed a truce would go into effect that evening to end three days of clashes between Israel and Gaza militants. Hamas security personnel would enforce the Egypt-brokered agreement, he said.
The latest round of violence began with a deadly attack on Israelis near the Egypt-Israel border on Thursday. That touched off a deadly round of Israeli airstrikes and rocket fire from Gaza.
About 15 Palestinians, most of them gunmen, were killed in the air attacks. Eight Israelis died in the border attack and another was killed by rocket fire.
The Popular Resistance Committees had resisted joining the cease-fire because an Israeli airstrike on Thursday killed several of its senior members, whom Israel accused of involvement in the border ambush.
But then the PRC announced it would join the truce.
The Israeli government says it was not involved in cease-fire talks. But Israeli President Shimon Peres, touring a city hit hard by rocket fire over the weekend said, “If they will cease fire, there will be a cease-fire.”
In the meantime, militant leaders in Gaza were not answering their mobile phones, fearing the Israelis would be able to locate and assassinate them.
A senior Israeli military official, meanwhile, said Israel’s newest rocket defence system did not provide full defence when faced with a barrage of Palestinian rockets.
Col. Zvika Haimovitch said the Iron Dome system he oversees was not foolproof against a salvo of five rockets fired on Saturday from the Gaza Strip. The system intercepted four of the rockets, but missed the last one, which killed an Israeli man.