|Israel's "Rocket Museum"|
Escalation in Gaza: For first time since July, and after assassination of two senior Army of Islam members, Palestinians fire Grad rocket into Israel. Rocket hits open area in Merhavim Regional Council; three cows injured. Two Qassam rockets fired from Strip overnight
A loud explosion rocked the western Negev on Thursday night as Palestinian gunmen in Gaza fired a rocket into Israel. The rocket exploded in an open area in the Merhavim Regional Council. Three cows were injured and a building sustained damage.
This was the first Grad rocket to be fired from the Gaza Strip since July, and the first to hit the Ofakim area since Operation Cast Lead.
Earlier this month, the Israel Defense Forces assassinated two senior members of the al-Qaeda affiliated Army of Islam group.
At around 3:15 am, residents in the Ofakim area and the Eshkol, Sdot Negev and Merhavim Regional Council reported hearing an air raid siren followed by a blast. Residents of a moshav near Netivot told Ynet that "a loud explosion was heard in the entire area."
The security forces were working to locate the rocket, but were facing difficulties due to heavy fog.
On Thursday evening, a Qassam rocket exploded in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council. At around 4:30 am, Palestinians fired another Qassam, this time at the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council. A blast was heard in the area, although the rocket landed near the Palestinian side of the border fence. There were no reports of injuries or damage in both incidents.
The last Grad rocket fired from Gaza landed near an apartment building in Ashkelon. Eight people suffered from shock. Less than a week later, rockets were fired from Sinai into Eilat and Aqaba, killing one Jordanian man.
Earlier Thursday, Army of Islamissued a Hebrew threat to avenge Israel's killing of two of its members in Gaza, in what an expert said was the first use of the language for such propaganda.
In the half-minute-long recording posted on a website used by the al-Qaeda affiliated group, a hoarse male voice tells the "aggressor Jews" they will not be safe from rockets and other attacks until they "leave the land of Palestine".