Southern Israel has been hit by three rockets, fired from the Gaza Strip, hours after two Palestinians were killed in the West Bank, by Israeli forces.These incidents cast doubt over the future of a fragile truce, that begun on Thursday and has been in force in Gaza between Israel and armed Palestinian groups.
Responsibility for the rocket attacks has been taken by Al-Quds, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement. Damage but no casualties were caused by the attacks in the Israeli town of Sderot.
In the Israeli prime minister’s office, David Baker, a spokesperson said: “Any rocket fire from the Gaza Strip would be a grave violation of the calm.”
The rocket attacks followed an Israeli raid earlier during the day in Nablus, a town of the West Bank.
An Israeli spokesman said that the men were killed by Israeli troops in an exchange of fire. The spokesman added that one of the men was a fighter from Islamic Jihad and the other was a “militant”.
‘Continue observing the agreement’
The Israeli killings have been condemned by the Hamas, the main signatory of the Gaza truce. But the group also called on Palestinian factions to “to exercise self-restraint and continue observing the agreement”.
One of the men was a bystander killed by Israeli troops when he opened the door to his apartment, that lies next to the location of the raid, said Nablus residents.
The West Bank is not covered by the truce between Israel and Palestinian armed groups, including Hamas. However, the Islamic Jihad movement had said that the killings would not pass without punishment.The truce does not mean that Palestinians would sit silently, said the group in a statement. Then, regarding the latest Israeli attack, the Islamic Jihad movement called on different Palestinian factions to clarify their position.
There was no confirmation, from either side, that the violence had rendered the ceasefire void, said Ayman Mohyeldin, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in the Gaza Strip.
According to Lamis Andoni, Al Jazeera’s Middle East analyst : “The killings are a reminder that the truce in Gaza will remain shaky when it is not extended to include the West Bank.”
“Israeli insistence on retaining freedom to conduct arrests and raids in the West Bank further undermines Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’ standing, and makes it difficult for Hamas to demand Palestinian fighters adhere to the truce in Gaza.”
The previous evening, a mortar shell was also fired into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip. It was the first such incident since the truce came into effect, on June 19, said the Israeli army.
On Tuesday, officials said that the missile was launched from the central Gaza Strip and landed in the Nahal Oz without hurting anyone.
“We are familiar with a mortar shell that landed near the security fence in northern Gaza on the Israeli side”, said an army spokeswoman.
There has been no claim of responsibility nor any confirmation from Palestinian sources that the incident, reported on Monday evening, took place.
Both sides do not regard the incident as a violation of the ceasefire, have said observers.