Violence on the southern front escalated over the weekend, when Palestinian-Islamists in Gaza fired more than 40 rockets at Israeli communities. According to the IDF, at least 10 of the missiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome Aerial Defense System.
An estimated 200,000 Israelis were forced seek protection in bomb shelters after the blaring of air raid sirens sounded in Ashkelon, Sderot and other border cities and towns. Most had just 15-30 seconds to reach safety in accordance with instructions from the Home Front Command, dependent on their proximity to the Jihadist-controlled territory.
Medical teams reportedly transferred a woman in the 7th month of pregnancy to a hospital after she fell while running to a bomb shelter. It was later confirmed that no harm was caused to the unborn child. Several other civilians received medical treatment for shock. Damage to public areas included a children’s playground.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) claimed responsibility for the indiscriminate rocket launches.
Two operatives of the Iranian-backed group drew deadly fire from the IDF while they tried to plant an improvised explosive device next to Israel’s security barrier with Gaza yesterday morning. The bodies of the PIJ terrorists were retrieved by the Israeli army, in apparent accordance with a directive issued
by Defense Minister Naftali Bennett last week following consultation with the security establishment. The new policy would require direct approval by the Defense Minister to facilitate the return of anyone killed while carrying out terrorist activities against Israelis; and is expected to be presented for necessary endorsement by the Security Cabinet in the near future.
The PIJ this morning vowed a violent response to the new directive, which it described as “a Zionist crime against the Palestinian people.”
In further retaliation for the Palestinian rocket fire, the IDF launched a wide-scale bombardment against PIJ targets in Gaza, as well as Syria. The multi-front attack inflicted a devastating blow to dozens of militant installations, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. One of the Syrian targets was a research and development compound in the Adeliyah region outside of Damascus, which Israeli military sources said was being used to develop weapons and rocket fuel for smuggling into Gaza. Direct hits were confirmed on numerous targets hit Israeli fighter aircraft in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, including militant installations and several PIJ terror cells caught preparing to launch additional rockets at the Jewish State.
The IDF Home Front Command instructed all educational facilities in southern Israel to remain closed today, due to the heightened level of violence from Gaza. Crowd-size at events has been limited to 300, and people have been barred to congregating in open spaces.