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Tensions high a day after Gaza violence

Palestinian militants accept an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire. Its rocket attacks and Israel's airstrikes grow less frequent.

October 30, 2011|By Batsheva Sobelman, Los Angeles Times
  • A construction worker fixes a hole made by a long-range Grad rocket in Ashdod, Israel.
A construction worker fixes a hole made by a long-range Grad rocket in Ashdod,… (Ilia Yefimovich, Getty…)

Reporting from Jerusalem — The day after a series of Palestinian rocket attacks and Israeli airstrikes killed nine militants in the Gaza Strip and an Israeli civilian in southern Israel, strikes Sunday appeared to thin out, though tensions remained high.

After an early-morning barrage was launched at southern Israel on Sunday, Islamic Jihad announced it would accept an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire and hold its rocket fire while reserving the right to respond to any attacks from Israel.

"There is no cease-fire," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, adding that Israel's army would continue to carry out strikes to protect residents in the south from rocket attacks.

According to Israeli army sources, 12 rockets were launched at Israel on Sunday, including five Grad rockets. At least two launches occurred in the evening, after the cease-fire was supposed to have taken effect. Israeli operations also decreased, with one airstrike since the morning hours. Army spokesmen said the strike targeted a militant cell preparing to launch a projectile at Israel.

Palestinian sources reported one person killed and another injured as a result of the afternoon strike in the southern Gaza Strip, bringing the death toll in Gaza to 10 since the beginning of the escalation.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, expressed concern at the renewed exchange of fire. "I wholeheartedly condemn the indiscriminate targeting of civilians wherever they are," she said in a statement urging all sides to respect the cease-fire brokered by Egypt.

Israeli schools and universities within about 30 miles of the Gaza Strip remained closed Sunday, and some southern towns decided to keep educational facilities shuttered on Monday.

Sobelman is a news assistant in The Times' Jerusalem bureau.

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