Jerusalem, June 21- Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired volleys of rockets at Israeli towns and villages on Thursday in the fourth straight day of attacks on Israeli civilians that has left 13 wounded.
The military wing of the Hamas terrorist group, armed and financed by Iran, claimed responsibility for many of the strikes. In previous eruptions of violence against Israel this year, the rival Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility while Hamas worked to calm matters down.
With some 130 rockets and mortars hitting Israel over the past three days, The Israel Project now puts the number of rockets and mortars fired at Israel from Gaza this year at 462, compared to 653 for all of 2011.
The injuries occurred when a rocket hit an apartment building in the Western Negev; one person was moderately and seven lightly wounded, all from shrapnel, according to Israel Radio. Another rocket exploded near a police car wounding four officers, one of them seriously.
Since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, terrorists have fired more than 8,000 rockets into Israel. More than one million Israelis are currently under threat of rocket attacks and many spent the night in bomb shelters and safe rooms.
In response, the Israel Defense Forces targeted terrorist squads in Gaza, killing two terrorists in a rocket-launching squad.
Officials in the city of Ashkelon cancelled classes Thursday and kept tens of thousands of students at home for fear of more attacks.
A terror cell infiltrated Israel on Monday from the Sinai Peninsula, just south of Gaza, killing Saeed Fashapshe, 36, an Israeli Arab and the father of four. He was on a construction crew, working on the new border fence between Israel and Egypt being built to prevent such cross-border terror attacks.
There are 400 to 500 smuggling tunnels running under the Gaza-Egypt frontier, according to Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman Lt.-Col. Avital Leibovich. Speaking on a conference call organized by TIP, Leibovich said terrorists and arms are easily smuggled in and out of Sinai via the tunnels.
Israel holds Iran-backed Hamas responsible for all terror attacks launched from Gaza. It has controlled the territory since it seized power in a bloody coup in 2007.
“The IDF will not tolerate any attempt by terrorist groups to target Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers, and will continue to operate against those who use terror against the State of Israel,” the Israeli army said in a statement.