JERUSALEM (CNN) — Militants fired six rockets into southern Israel and exchanged gunfire with troops in northern Gaza Sunday, hours after Israel declared a unilateral cease-fire in the Palestinian territory, an Israeli spokesman said.
An Israeli soldier holds up an Israeli flag after leaving Gaza on Sunday.
The Qassam rockets were fired into Sderot at 9 a.m. — seven hours after Israel’s cease-fire went into effect. The rockets did not injure anyone, and Israeli aircrafts destroyed the rocket launcher soon afterward, an Israeli military spokesman said.
An hour or two before the rocket attacks, Palestinian gunmen opened fire on Israeli forces in northern Gaza, the Israeli military said. Troops returned fire.
Israel launched an offensive in Gaza just over three weeks ago, with the stated intent of stopping the barrage of rockets — primarily the short-range homemade Qassam rocket — fired from the territory into southern Israel by Hamas fighters.
Palestinian medical sources also pulled 30 bodies from rubble in Gaza on Sunday, adding to the death toll from Israel’s 22-day offensive in the area.
“If Hamas chooses to still launch rockets, we’ll answer back and we’ll answer back harsh,” said Avital Leibovich, spokeswoman for the Israel Defense Forces Sunday. “It’s really up to Hamas. Hamas will be accountable for any launching and every terror activity from the Gaza strip.”
Israel also announced Sunday it would open an emergency treatment center at the Erez crossing point from Israel to Gaza for civilians who have been injured in the fighting. It will be “fully equipped and staffed” and Palestinians requiring more involved treatement will be sent to hospitals in Israel, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The three-week conflict has killed more than 1,200 people in Gaza and injured more than 5,000 more, many of them Palestinian civilians, according to medical sources in Gaza City. They said 410 children have died.
On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and three civilians have been killed and more than 200 soldiers have been wounded since the fighting began, an Israel Defense Forces spokesman said Saturday.
At 2 a.m. Sunday, Israel declared a cease-fire in Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel was prepared to respond if Hamas militants continue fighting in Gaza.
“If foes decide to continue to fight against us, then we will be ready and we shall consider ourselves justified in replying,” he said.
Hamas leaders responded, saying they did not consider Olmert’s declaration a cease-fire as long as Israeli troops remain in the Palestinian territory.
“The troops on the ground is a declaration of war against the Palestinians,” said Osama Hamdan, a representative of Hamas, which has held political control of Gaza since 2007. “Israel did not offer anything.”
Even before Sunday’s rocket attacks, the cease-fire announcement was met with pessimism by Palestinians.
Saeb Erakat, the chief Palestinian negotiator during diplomatic talks about the conflict, noted that Olmert did not say Israeli troops would be leaving Gaza.
Islamic Jihad, an extremist group operating in Gaza and listed as a terrorist organization by several governments, said the cease-fire was an Israeli decision that will not impact its actions.
Senior leader Khader Habib told CNN his group will continue fighting until Israel leaves Gaza, and crossings into and out of the territory are opened. Islamic Jihad is not directly affiliated with Hamas.
CNN’s Shira Medding contributed to this report.