On Dec. 4, the number of rocket and mortar attacks Palestinian militants in Gaza launched atIsraelduring the past year hit the 2,000 mark - almost double the number in 2006. The increase in attacks has continued despite last week's renewed Israel-Palestinian peace talks, which include the goal of creating a sovereign Palestinian state. Israel welcomed the U.S.-brokered talks despite the continual and deadly rocket and mortar siege out ofGaza.
The escalation in attacks also comes almost two-and-a-half years after Israel gave up all ofGaza and parts of the West Bank, handing control of the areas over to the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) in hopes that it would lead to the creation of an independent Palestinian state. To carry out the disengagement from Gaza, a region that Israel won from Egypt after Israel fought a defensive war in 1967 against several Arab armies, roughly 9,000 Jews were uprooted from the communities where they had been living for generations.
Iran-backed Hamas , designated a terrorist organization by five countries and international entities , has encouraged the attacks. Hamas seized control of Gaza in June following a bloody fight against P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party.
Background on Gaza Rocket/Mortar Fire
- On the evening of Dec. 4, Palestinian militants in Gaza fired the 2,000th Qassam rocket this year. By contrast, in 2006, militants fired 1,100 rockets and mortars at Israel.
- Palestinian militants in Gaza launched a total of 21 rockets and mortars at Israel on Tues., Dec. 4.
- Since Israel's unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in Aug. 2005, Palestinian militants fired more than 3,600 rockets and mortar bombs at Israeli towns and communities.
- Thirteen Israeli citizens have been killed by indiscriminate rocket and mortar fire from Gaza, and another 307 people have been physically injured. Among those killed were a 2-year-old baby, Dorit Inso, and two 4-year-olds, Yuval Abebah and Afik Zahavi.
- In 2007, 60 Israeli civilians have been injured by rocket and mortar fire and two people killed.
- In 2007, one rocket has been fired every four hours.
- Since Jan. 2001, more than 7,300 rockets and mortar bombs have been fired at Israeli civilians.
- A total of 68 percent of all Qassam rockets and mortar bombs were fired from the city of Beit Hanoun in Gaza. 
- Fourteen percent of all rockets and mortars were fired from the Beit Lahiya area of Gaza and 8 percent were launched from the Jabaliya refugee camp, at the northern end of Gaza.
- Since Hamas took control of Gaza by force in June 2007, the rate of Qassam and mortar fire has increased by 500 percent.
- More than 200 families - about 1,200 people - have fled Sderot due to the ongoing shelling from Gaza by Palestinian terrorists.
Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leaders Comment on Rocket Fire
Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas leader, Aug. 2005:
"The Qassam [rockets] is what forced the enemy out. This is a victory for the resistance and for all of the Palestinian people."
Abu Ahmed, Palestinian Islamic Jihad Spokesman, Sept. 2007:
"The rockets have become accurate, they hardly miss, and most important they manage to disrupt the Israelis livesWe definitely planned to increase the rocket fire when the school year opened."
http://encarta.msn.com, 1997-2007 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
"Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs)," U.S. Department of State Web site, Oct. 11, 2005,
Wilson, Scott, "Hamas Sweeps Palestinian Elections, Complicating Peace Efforts in Mideast," The Washington Post , Jan. 27, 2006, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/
Public Security and Emergency Preparedness Canada, National Security, Listed entities, accessed Jan. 18, 2007, http://www.psepc.gc.ca/prg/ns/le/cle-en.asp#hhi18;
"Listing of Terrorist Organisations," Australian Government Web site, May 24, 2007,
 Issacharoff, Avi, and Azoulay, Yuval, "Qassam hits Sderot residence; IDF kills 2 Hamas gunmen," Haaretz, Dec. 5, 2007, http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/931440.html
 Israel Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, Committee for a Secure Sderot, Dec. 5, 2007. Retrieved Dec. 5. 2007 from http://www.matesderot.co.il/info_en.asp?cat=119457167
 Waked, Ali, "Al-Quds Brigades: Sderot strike strengthens us," YnetNews, Sept. 4, 2007,
The Israel Project authorizes and welcomes use of any part or all of this release/statement free of charge and without attribution.