Rockets Fired From Gaza at End of Sharon Funeral

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, meets with Vice-President Joe Biden, Monday. Biden was in the country for the funeral of Ariel Sharon. (Matty Stern/US Embassy of Tel Aviv/Flash 90)
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, meets with Vice-President Joe Biden, Monday. Biden was in the country for the funeral of Ariel Sharon. (Matty Stern/US Embassy of Tel Aviv/Flash 90)

The Israel Defense Forces struck targets in the Gaza Strip on Monday evening, in retaliation for two rockets fired at southern Israel shortly after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s funeral.

Participants who attended the burial service at Sharon’s Negev home, Sycamore Ranch, reported hearing the explosions. The projectiles landed in an open area near the farm, which is within range of rockets from the Palestinian territory and has absorbed fire nearby in the past. There were no casualties in Monday’s strike.

Two additional rockets were fired earlier Monday before the funeral, but neither appeared to have landed in Israel. Israeli media said the rockets were fired into the sea.

Some 1,500 people came to pay last respects to Sharon, including President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and other international dignitaries.

Israel’s defense establishment had been preparing for the possibility that Gaza terrorists would try to disrupt the event with rocket fire. Southern District Police chief Maj. Gen. Yoram Halevy visited Anemone Hill, the site of Sharon’s burial, on Sunday during preparations for the service and said the police were prepared for any scenario — “from provocations by visitors to high trajectory fire from the Gaza Strip.”

Israeli media reported that the Iron Dome anti-missile system was deployed near Sharon’s ranch to protect against rockets, but the military declined to comment.

Due to the potential for further rocket attacks from Gaza, residents in communities that border the northern Strip were instructed to remain in their homes and wait for further developments. IDF forces are in the area on alert.

Israel’s President Shimon Peres (R) walks with Vice President Joe Biden before their meeting at Peres’ residence. Biden was in the country for the funeral of Ariel Sharon. (REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Israel’s President Shimon Peres (R) walks with Vice President Joe Biden before their meeting at Peres’ residence. Biden was in the country for the funeral of Ariel Sharon. (REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)