Days After Cease-fire, Mortar Shells Fired From Gaza at Israel

At least two mortar shells were fired from Gaza at southern Israel on Saturday evening, days after the most violent flare up since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas ended in a cease-fire.

Residents reported hearing explosions shortly after sirens warned of an incoming rocket. The army said that one of the rockets fell in an open area on the Gazan side of the border while another was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome.

No one was hurt and no damage was caused.

The Israeli military is expected to retaliate, but it has not altered its policy regarding a desire to maintain calm in border communities and is therefore likely to choose a measured response that will not lead to further escalation.

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The Israeli army said Wednesday it believed fighting in Gaza had come to an end and said it will respect the calm if Hamas ends the rocket fire towards Israel. Hamas agreed to accept a unilateral cease-fire after talks with Egypt, despite the fact the Israel was not party to the talks.

Multiple fires broke out Saturday in Israeli fields near the Gaza border, with fire and rescue services suspecting that burning kites sent from the Gaza were to blame.

The fires broke out in the morning, including one that destroyed some 300 dunams (about 74 acres) of woodland in a nature reserve. Dozens of firefighting crews and four planes have been deployed to fight the blaze. The area also saw several fires break out on Friday, which were brought under control by firefighters.

>> Still hoping to leverage Gaza protests, Hamas lacks enthusiasm for war with Israel | Analysis << 

A Palestinian woman was killed by live fire and 40 others were wounded during demonstrations near the Israel-Gaza border on Friday, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Razan Najjar, a 21-year-old volunteer for a medical team helping wounded protesters, was shot near Khan Yunis and thousands attended her funeral.

Since the confrontations along the border of May 14, the number of participants has fallen dramatically, and Hamas and other Palestinian factions have set June 5 as the date for a march by tens of thousands to mark 51 years since the Six-Day War, known as Nakba Day by the Palestinians.