Grad hits south of Beersheba as southern escalation enters second day (TIMES OF ISRAEL) By TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF 06/20/12)
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More than 50 missiles fired at southern Israel since Tuesday; nine
injured near Kibbutz Yad Mordechai
The air force struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday
morning, the seventh airstrike carried out overnight in response to
ongoing rocket attacks on Israel. Hamas claimed responsibility for
the latest dramatic escalation from the Strip, which saw 11 rockets
fired since nightfall and more than 50 over the last two days.
Nearly all the rockets fell in the area closest to the Gaza strip,
but a Grad Rocket that fell in an open field south of Beersheba on
Wednesday morning, causing no damage, suggests that a further
escalation may be imminent.
Palestinian sources said Israeli strikes targeted two military
installations, on the north coast of Gaza and in the Zeitoun
neighborhood of Gaza City, and that one person was injured in the
The IDF has instructed residents of the Eshkol and Hof Ashkelon
Regional Councils to remain near sheltered areas in anticipation of
continued fire, but schools remain open.
On Tuesday, a rocket landed next to a police vehicle in the vicinity
of Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, in the Hof Ashkelon region, starting a fire
and injuring nine Border Policemen. One man suffered serious injuries
in the explosion, and several others were lightly injured by shrapnel.
Another rocket was fired at approximately 2 AM Wednesday and landed
in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council. There were no
injuries or damage reported.
“The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to target Israeli civilians
and IDF soldiers and will continue to operate with strength and
determination against anyone who uses terror against the residents of
the State of Israel. The Hamas terror organization is solely
responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza
Strip,” read a statement by the IDF’s Spokesman’s office.
Hamas claimed responsibility early Wednesday for the more than 50
Kassam rockets, Grad missiles and mortar shells that were fired by
Gaza-based terrorists into southern Israel since Tuesday. With the
exception of the Hof Ashkelon hit, the rockets landed in open areas
and there were no other injuries or damage reported.
Three Grad missiles were fired at the town of Netivot at about 8:30
PM Tuesday. All three landed in open areas near the town.
Several rockets were fired into the Eshkol, Hof Ashkelon, Sdot Negev
and Shaar Hanegev regions in the morning and afternoon into the night.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak gathered top generals of the IDF in order
to discuss possible responses the army could take in light of recent
escalation along the border with Gaza.
Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino predicted on Tuesday that the
current round of fighting would go on for several days.
“We are preparing for the possibility that [the attacks] may reach
the larger and more distant cities,” he said.
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz visited the Israeli-Egyptian border on
Tuesday afternoon, at the site of Monday’s terror attack in which an
Israeli citizen was killed by terrorists who infiltrated the south of
Israel from Sinai. Two terrorists were killed, and an Islamic group
named the Mujahideen Shura Council of Jerusalem claimed
Said Fashapshe, 36 and a father of four, a resident of Haifa who had
been employed by the Defense Ministry for years and worked on the
Israel-Egypt border fence for the past 18 months, was killed in the
attack. Terrorists had fired on a convoy of construction workers.
Soldiers stationed along the border handled the situation well, Gantz
told reporters who asked about the security situation along the newly
built fence. “The bigger problems are the terror bases being built in
Sinai,” he said.
The rocket strikes were the latest salvo in a period which has seen
multiple cross-border incidents involving Gazan terrorists and the
Responsibility for the Tuesday morning rocket fire was claimed by Izz
ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, which said it was
aiming at an IDF base at Zikim, close to Ashkelon. It said the
attacks were in response to the death of one of its members, who was
killed in an Israeli strike on Monday — itself a response to previous
rocket fire from Gaza.
Earlier, in the small hours of Tuesday morning, IAF planes struck a
terrorist cell planting explosives near the border fence in the
central Gaza Strip. A Palestinian health official said two Gaza men
were killed as a result. (© 2012 THE TIMES OF ISRAEL 06/20/12)
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