Palestinian rocket fire at Israel is testing a shaky ceasefire in the
Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Palestinian militants in Gaza fired a rocket at
Israel that landed near the coastal city of Ashkelon. There were no
injuries or damage, but the attack raised the prospect of further
Israeli retaliation. Israel has vowed to respond harshly to any
Palestinian rocket fire and there have been a series of tit-for-tat
attacks since a ceasefire ended the Gaza war two weeks ago.
Israeli analyst Dan Schueftan says Israel needs to strengthen its new policy of deterrence.
time they shoot a rocket, we should react without any proportion in a
way that will not only hurt them but also humiliate them," he said.
is trying to mediate a long term ceasefire between Israel and the
Islamic militant group Hamas which rules Gaza. But Hamas says it will
not stop the rocket fire and other attacks unless Israel opens border
crossings into Gaza and lifts its crippling blockade. Israel says that
cannot happen until Hamas releases a captive Israeli soldier held for
two and a half years in Gaza.
The soldier, Gilad Shalit, is a
powerful bargaining chip for Hamas. Senior Hamas official Khalil
al-Hayya told a rally in Gaza that Israel must pay a high price.
said "Shalit will not see the light of day" until Israel releases
hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. Israel says the problem is not with
the numbers but the names. Hamas is demanding some top militants
involved in bombings with mass casualties, and Israel says they will
not be released.