Rocket fire continues to pepper southern Israel despite efforts on both sides to bring the conflict in Gaza to a peaceful end.
The attacks are threatening to re-ignite the violence that has turned the streets of the Hamas ruled coastal strip into a battleground. On a visit to the southern Israeli city of Sderot, target of the latest Qassam missile attacks, Israel’s Likud party opposition leader was pessimistic about the ceasefire. “Well, it’s not over,” he said. “It’s very clear that Hamas is still here and that we’ll have to remove this threat. “We have to show strength and resolition of the kind we’ve seen residents of Sderot show for years and this is what will be required by Israel to remove this threat once and for all.” Nethanyahu went on to say it was important Israel did not show weakness in its dealings with Hamas and Hezbollah, both of which are backed by Iran, he said. The Israeli city of Ashkelon has also seen renewed rocket salvoes and residents there are constantly aware of a possible strike as they go about their business. Israel’s military has warned that, “any such attack will be met with a harsh response”. There’s been a mixed reaction on the streets. One young resident said: “I don’t think it will work because Hamas has fired too many missiles, even when we had a ceasfire, and even when we didn’t attack it at all, so!” “I think it’s about time. We did pay the price for this war, and of course, we made them pay the price, but it’s time to stop,” said another. Some residents held more forceful views, one man condemned those responsible for launching the rockets as “monsters”. In the cafes, others quietly studied the newspapers, looking for names they might recognise, awaiting news of friends and loved ones still on active service. Meanwhile in the distance – in Gaza smoke could be seen rising from between buildings on the skyline, a sure sign of an retaliatory Israeli air strike.