Six rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, causing no damage or injuries, but keeping tensions high in southern Israeli towns. The rockets were fired after Russian foreign minister said a Hamas leader promised him Palestinians would end the violence against Israel.
Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday that Damascus-based Khaled Meshaal had personally given him this promise at their meeting in Moscow. Meshaal did not repeat the promise cited by the Russian foreign minister at a separate news conference, but he did make it clear that Hamas is not ready to recognize Israel.
The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attacks. Some of the rockets landed in open fields near Sderot, near a kibbutz in the Negev and south of Ashkelon.
Wednesday morning's Border Guard operation in Jenin, in which three Islamic Jihad members, including the group's commander, were killed, have put Israel's southern communities on alert for fear of retaliation. Civilians were instructed to avoid crowded areas.
In Sderot, the city is readying for a possible evacuation. Records have been complied of elderly and disabled residents and on Tuesday, parents of kindergarteners were urged to prepare emergency bags for their children.
On Tuesday, Defense Minster Amir Peretz visited the area and said that Israel may not be able to sit by for much longer while rockets continue to terrorize people in the region.
"There is no reason to let anyone turn this escalation into a real threat on the State of Israel. We are certainly doing all we can to ensure that the ceasefire remains," he said.