Israelis living in southern Israel spent Wednesday night and into Thursday morning in bomb shelters as more than 150 rockets were launched from Gaza.
One woman, a foreign worker from Thailand, was seriously injured early Thursday morning when one of the rockets hit a home in a community on the border with Gaza. Several other homes and factories, as well as cars, were damaged after being hit by rockets and shrapnel.
On Wednesday evening an Israeli man in his 30s was moderately injured after being hit by shards of broken glass and a man in his 20s was hurt by shrapnel. At least eight people were treated for panic attacks, including two pregnant women who went into labour.
The Iron Dome missile defence system intercepted 25 of the rockets heading toward populated areas, and most of the others landed in open areas.
After a night taking shelter from the rockets, residents of southern Israeli communities took shelter once again as dozens more rockets were fired between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.
According to instructions from the Israel Defence Forces, trains were cancelled in Israel’s south between Sderot and Ashkelon, and farmers were barred from working in their fields. All summer camps were cancelled, as well as any gatherings of 300 or more people.
The IDF struck back, attacking over 140 Hamas military targets in Gaza. Among the targets of dozens of Israeli warplanes were weapons production facilities, weapons storage warehouses and training facilities, the IDF said in a statement.
“After a night of more rockets we don’t see an end to the escalation. We are closing in on operation in Gaza,” an unnamed senior military officer said. Thursday. He said Hamas has been on a course of “conflict and friction” since late March.
The Health Ministry in Gaza said that a pregnant woman and her young daughter were killed in the airstrikes, as well as a man, 30, who is the son of a Hamas military commander.
Hamas had threatened an escalation after Israel on Tuesday fired on a Hamas military post in northern Gaza in response to the shooting at Israeli troops from there. Two Hamas operatives were killed. It later emerged that the bullets fired at the Israeli troops were errant fire from a Hamas training exercise, which Israel acknowledged after an investigation.
The rocket barrage comes after a report by the Turkish Anadolu Agency citing an unnamed Hamas source that Israel and Hamas will officially unveil a long-term truce deal at the end of the month.
President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl reacted by saying she is “deeply concerned about the escalation of violence and the more than 150 rockets fired at Israel. I utterly condemn the ongoing rocket salvo from Hamas that has wounded more than 11 Israelis. Our strong commitment to the State of Israel’s right to defend its borders and civilians is uncompromising. My thoughts are with the families of the wounded and injured, including both the innocent Israelis and Palestinians caught up in this needless escalation by Hamas.”
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