Rocket fire has dramatically and dangerously escalated in Gaza, resulting in six Palestinians being killed since the start of the assault.
Reports say rocket fire from Gaza hit the Jewish state despite Israeli air strikes overnight.
With the continuing rain of of rocket fire, Israeli police raised their level of alert in the towns and villages within rocket range.
In Washington DC, Department Spokeperson Victoria Nuland says the United States strongly condemns the rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel.
She renews calls that there is no justification for the targeting of innocent civilians and calls on those responsible to take immediate action to stop these cowardly acts.
“We regret the injuries sustained in today’s violence. To avoid an escalation of the situation, we encourage all parties to exercise restraint.” -Ms. Nuland
Terrorists in Hamas-controlled Gaza have fired 108 rockets, mortars and missiles from Gaza into Israel since Israel ended its defensive operation from December 2008-Jan. 9 to root out rocket launchers and weapons storage facilities Gaza.
That marks a significant decrease from the 7,000 rockets, mortars and missiles fired from Gaza since Israel withdrew all of its citizens and forces from the area in August 2005. Israel carried out the 2005 operation in hopes of paving the way for an independent Palestinian state.
In June 2007, the Iran-backed terrorist organization Hamas carried out a violent coup in the Gaza Strip and overthrew the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah party. Since then the group has remained in control of the territory and refused to reconcile with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party or allow new elections to take place.
Hamas also has fired thousands of rockets, missiles and mortars at Israeli civilians from Gaza, turning it into a launching pad for attacks against Israel after Israel uprooted its communities and left all of Gaza in 2005 in hopes of paving the way for an independent Palestinian state. Hamas has smuggled in hundreds of tons of weaponry into the territory. Additionally, Hamas continues to refuse to recognize Israel, renounce violence and return Gilad Shalit, the Israeli-French soldier whom Hamas abducted from Israel in an unprovoked attack in June 2006.
Israel has placed a naval blockade on Gaza to prevent large-scale weapons smuggling and also restricted the entry into Gaza of certain goods, particularly those Hamas has used in the past to build its terrorist infrastructure . On June 20, the Israeli government eased certain restrictions to allow in more civilian goods, except those that may have dual military use.