GUSH KATIF BLOCK, Gaza – The Jewish neighborhoods of Gaza today came under a barrage of Palestinian mortar and Qassam fire that killed two, as residents here this afternoon called for the Israeli government to do more to protect them from almost daily rocket attacks by nearby terrorists.
Two workers were killed, one Palestinian and one Chinese, and six other Palestinian workers were injured this afternoon when two Qassam rockets slammed into a greenhouse in the Gush Katif block, the largest strip of Jewish neighborhoods slated for evacuation this summer.
Both Islamic Jihad and Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. Jihad said in spite of a cease-fire Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas signed with Israel Feb. 8, it would continue its attacks until the “Zionist entity” is destroyed.
Earlier this morning, Palestinians fired four Qassams at the Southern Gaza town of Sderot, sending two residents to the hospital for treatment of shock and slightly damaging a house.
Hamas, which claimed responsibility, said the attack was in response to attempted violence by Jewish groups on Israel’s Temple Mount yesterday.
Jewish Gazans protesting today’s attacks.
“We announce that any attempt to harm Al-Aqsa Mosque means launching a war in all the Palestinian areas, and we assert that we will defend the Aqsa with every possible means,” a Hamas leaflet said.
David Ha’irvi, director of Revava, the Jewish Temple Mount activist group Hamas claims planned attacks, told WND: “Jewish violence? It was the Palestinians who attacked Jews yesterday on the mount. After five thousand rockets fired from Gaza, now they come up with the excuse that today’s attack was in order to prevent us from praying on our mount? The Israeli government must smash out all the terrorists and stop giving in to threats and demands.”
Meanwhile, about 70 Jewish residents of Gaza gathered this evening around the sites of the Sderot rocket attacks in a spontaneous demonstration against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to evacuate Jews from Gaza and four West Bank settlements this summer.
“We cannot give in to the terrorists,” protest leader Yekutiel Ben Yacov told WND. “If Sharon carries through with the disengagement, Israeli towns like Sderot can expect to see hundreds of daily rockets. Israel should be distancing its population centers from the Palestinians, not giving them a nearby area to stage attacks.”
Hamas has been launching regular rocket and mortar attacks against the Jewish Gaza communities. Analysts have warned the attacks will escalate as the Gaza withdrawal draws closer so Hamas can claim it has driven Israel from the area.
Some, like Ben Yacov, worry after the Gaza evacuation Hamas will use the territory gained to stage rocket attacks deeper inside Israel.
Since February, the Palestinians have smuggled multiple rockets and five anti-aircraft missile batteries into Rafah from across the Egypt-Gaza border, reports Israel’s Center for Special Studies.
Hamas also recently started manufacturing a new rocket, the Nasser 3, capable of reaching further than the currently used Qassam 2 rockets, which, unlike the Nasser, have improvised fuses and warheads that don’t always explode on impact.
“The Nasser 3 brings things to a whole new level of warfare,” a security source previously told WorldNetDaily. “Hamas knows they can’t get inside Israel because of the security fence, and they are setting the stages for a major shift in tactics from suicide bombings to firing effective rockets from Palestinian areas deep inside Israel.”