2011 Starts with Rocket Fire into Israel from Gaza

Jerusalem, Jan. 2 – Terrorists in Hamas-controlled Gaza launched a military-grade projectile at an Israeli community of 6,500 residents on New Year's Day. The attack is part of a recent rise in mortar and rocket attacks on Israel coming from Gaza.

The Israeli Navy reportedly detained two ships that were trying to enter Gaza's coastal waters on Sunday.

Israel "holds the Hamas terrorist organization solely responsible for maintaining the calm in the Gaza Strip and for any terrorist activity emanating from it," the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement on Sunday.

Regional experts believe Tehran is a major sponsor of Hamas both militarily and financially.

Iran-backed Hamas is building up its military capability, particularly through weapons smuggling via Sinai, the Israel Security Agency said in its year-end report.

"The (United Nations) Security Council must give appropriate attention to the smuggling of arms into Gaza, which continues to fuel violence and instability in our region - in violation of numerous Security Council resolutions, including resolution 1860," Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Meron Reuben said in a letter to the organization in December 2010.

Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 in the hope that a civil society would develop and that it would lead to a two-state peace agreement. However, since then thousands of rockets have targeted Israeli homes in the cities and villages close to Gaza. Hamas has also extended the range of its rockets.

Meanwhile, Israeli police arrested five Hamas affiliates in East Jerusalem that were suspected of planning to fire rockets into Teddy Stadium, a sports center in southern Jerusalem, during a Premier League soccer game.

Two of the men were Arab Israeli citizens and three were Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem area has seen a rise in terrorist incidents in 2010, including throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails (or fire bombs, frequently used to set targets on fire), stabbings, and shootings.

In 2010, there were 798 terror attacks against Israelis. Nine Israelis were killed and 28 were wounded.

Also, 8,050 people have been wounded since the start of the second intifada in late September 2000, a period of increased Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians.

The second intifada began after Yasser Arafat, former leader of the Palestinian National Authority, walked out of the Camp David peace negotiations in July 2000.

There was a decrease in attempted suicide attacks in 2010. Joint Israeli and Palestinian cooperation is one of the reasons for the reduction in violence.

Israel's preventive security measures, coupled with the Palestinian Authority (PA)'s increased leadership and training of its own police force - with American assistance - has helped.

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