JERUSALEM—More than a third of the 140 rockets fired by Hamas at Israel yesterday fell short and exploded inside the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli Army spokesman’s office.
Rocket shortfalls have increased, according to Israeli military sources. They attribute these misfires to the intense pressure Hamas rocket squads face from Israeli air and artillery attacks, as well as poorly assembled rockets.
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Some 2,000 rockets have been fired at Israel since the fighting between Israel and Hamas began three weeks ago. Of these, say army officers, about 300 have fallen inside the Gaza Strip. The army spokesman said shortfalls were responsible for explosions three days ago at a hospital and a refugee camp that took dozens of lives. Hamas has denied the accusation and blamed Israel for the blasts.
"We believe that some 70 percent of their rocket arsenal has been depleted and they are now firing from the bottom of the heap," a military source told the World Tribune.
Hamas has refused to send a delegation to Cairo to discuss a temporary cease-fire as long as Israeli troops continue to demolish attack tunnels. The organization reportedly withdrew its opposition to Israeli troops remaining inside the strip during cease-fire talks, but said that its fighters will continue to fire as long as the Israelis continue destroying tunnels.
Egypt says it will not host the talks if Hamas is still firing. The displacement of more than 200,000 Gaza residents by the fighting, the virtual absence of electricity, and a degraded water supply has thus far failed to persuade Hamas’ military wing to drop its demand that Israel halt its tunnel demolitions.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today at a cabinet meeting that the army has demolished dozens of tunnels leading to the border, about 10 of which extended below the border fence into Israel. "We are determined to complete this mission, with or without a ceasefire," said Netanyahu.
Hamas fighters in Israeli army uniforms have succeeded in killing close to 10 Israeli soldiers during incursions utilizing the tunnel network. Residents of kibbutzim along the border have demanded that the army eliminate the tunnel threat before withdrawing from Gaza.
The army mobilized an additional 16,000 reservists yesterday, indicating a readiness to drive further into Gaza if a ceasefire is not soon reached. A total of 86,000 reservists have been called up since the fighting began.