Attacks on Southern Israel
The Jerusalem Post
A barrage of rockets fired from Gaza landed in a slew of southern Israeli cities on Saturday night, as violence continued to escalate along the Gaza Strip border following an anti-tank missile attack against an IDF jeep earlier on Saturday.
Twenty rockets fell, according to the IDF, though Channel 10 reported a total of 25 rockets, including eight long-range rockets, landing at Ashkelon, Ashdod, Sderot, the Eshkol Regional Council area and the Be'er Tuviya area.
An additional four rockets exploded in the Eshkol Regional Council on Saturday night, Israel Radio reported. No injuries or damage were reported.
At least one of the long-range Grad rockets was intercepted near Ashdod by the Iron Dome, according to the IDF. On Saturday night, the IDF struck a terrorist cell in the northern Gaza Strip attempting to fire rockets toward Israel.
Earlier on Saturday, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired an anti-tank missile at an IDF jeep carrying out an ordinary patrol on the Israeli side of the border, striking the vehicle directly and injuring four soldiers.
One soldier was in serious condition with a head injury, one is moderately wounded, and two are lightly injured. They were airlifted to the Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba.
Immediately afterwards, tanks opened fire on the area from which the missile was fired. Tanks also fired on pre-selected targets in the Sa'ajiya area of Gaza near Nahal Oz. Palestinian sources said four people were killed in the return fire, and 25 others were injured.
Following the incident, the IDF asked Gaza envelope residents in the Eshkol region and in Sha'ar Hanegev to be within 15 seconds away from shelters, Army Radio reported.
Islamic Jihad is believed to be behind the latest attack. The IDF views the incident as a severe escalation, and as part of a wider, stepped-up terrorist initiative to target its forces along the border.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz is due to hold an evaluation in the coming hours. "This is the second serious incident in a few days along the border," a senior army source said.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, responding to the anti-tank missile attack, said, "The IDF responded severely to the incident, and additional responses will be examined in the coming days. We will not accept the escalating attacks on the border."
Home Front Command Minister Avi Dichter said that Israel must restore its military deterrence against Gaza, saying that "this is an unbearable and unreasonable situation. Israel cannot accept a daily terrorist drizzle from Gaza."
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum blamed Israel for the incident, saying, "The occupation's targeting of civilians was a grave escalation that must not pass in silence," and adding that "resistance must be reinforced in order to block the aggression."
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