Israeli-Palestinian truce largely holding despite sporadic fire
JERUSALEM - The Israeli air force and Gaza militants traded sporadic fire overnight but a fragile truce between the sides that ended four days of violence appeared to be largely holding on Thursday.
Gaza militants soon after midnight fired a rocket into southern Israel which landed in an open field near the town of Sderot, without causing damage or injuries.
The rocket fire came not long after Israeli aircraft had struck at farmland near Gaza City and an uninhabited area near the southern town of Khan Yunis, causing no injuries in either case, Palestinian security officials said.
The Israeli military said that the raids were in response to a rocket fired at the southern city of Beersheva, which was brought down by the Iron Dome missile defence system.
Schools in most of the southern towns and cities were again closed on Thursday as a safety precaution, after reopening on Wednesday for the first time this week.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to parliament on Wednesday evening and tied the conflict in Gaza to tensions with Iran over its nuclear programme, which much of the West believes masks a weapons drive.
He accused the Israeli opposition, which supported the withdrawal of settlers and troops from Gaza in 2005, of having given Iran the chance to take over the territory.
"They put Iran into Gaza and we will take it out," he said.
"What's happening in Gaza is Iran. Where do the missiles come from? Iran. Where does the money come from? Iran. Who trains the terrorists? Iran. Who builds the infrastructure? Iran. And often who gives the orders? Iran.
"Gaza is an advance post for Iran," he said.
"I hope that the whole world today understands that the terrorist organisations in Gaza -- Hamas and Islamic Jihad -- and also Hezbollah in Lebanon, are sheltered by the Iranian umbrella.
"Can you imagine what would happen if that umbrella was nuclear?"
Netanyahu warned that the truce, agreed after four days of violence, would be short-lived if rocket fire resumed.
"Calm will bring calm. Anyone who disturbs it, or even tries to disturb it, will be in our gun sights," he said.
The truce, mediated by Egypt, ended violence that began on Friday with Israel's assassination of a senior Palestinian militant. Militants responded by firing hundreds of rockets into the Jewish state.
Under the terms of the ceasefire, both Israel and militants from Islamic Jihad, who were responsible for most of the rocket attacks, have agreed to hold their fire.