JERUSALEM, March 11 (UPI) -- Egypt Sunday tried to mediate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas after over 100 rockets were fired at southern Israel from Gaza, officials said.
A Hamas official told Israel Radio Sunday attempts were under way in Egypt to mediate a cease-fire with Israel that will come into effect within 48 hours.
At least 17 Palestinians have been killed since Friday including terror leaders and a 12-year-old boy, Palestinian officials said. All but one of the Palestinians killed in Israeli air strikes since Friday were affiliated with terror organizations in Gaza, Haaretz said
Eight Israelis and foreign workers were injured in rocket salvos during the weekend, Ynetnews.com said..
Some 200,000 Israeli students in the south were ordered to remain at home Sunday. The army's Home Front Command said schools would remain closed in areas located within a 4.3 miles to 24.8 miles radius from the Gaza Strip. Fortified schools in communities located within a 4.3 miles radius from Gaza remained open.
By Sunday noon, at least 11 rockets were fired at southern Israel and five were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense systems deployed in Beersheba, Ashkelon and Ashdod, officials told the radio.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lauded the defense system at Sunday's cabinet meeting and said there were plans to buy more of them.
The United States, France and the European Union condemned the rocket fire while Turkey condemned Israel.
A statement issued by the U.S. State Department said: "We condemn in the strongest terms the rocket fire from Gaza by terrorists into southern Israel in recent days, which has dramatically and dangerously escalated in the past day," department spokesman Victoria Nuland said.
The French Foreign Ministry also condemned the rocket fire saying it was concerned by the recent escalation, The Jerusalem Post said.
Turkey's Foreign Ministry condemned Israel for the Air Force strikes it had conducted in Gaza, Today's Zaman said. "We call on the world not to ignore the disproportionate reprisals by Israel. We ask Israel once again to end its inhumane policy towards Gaza," the Turkish daily quoted the ministry saying.
The violence erupted Friday after an Israeli Air Force strike killed Zuhir al-Qaisi, the commander of the Popular Resistance Committee in Gaza, who the army said was planning a large terror attack on Israel's southern border.