VIDEO - Israel on Thursday suffered the heaviest human losses since fighting broke out with Hizbullah 23 days ago as eight civilians were killed in rocket attacks and four soldiers were killed in clashes with Hizbullah terrorists in southern Lebanon.
Three soldiers were killed in an anti-tank missile attack on their Merkava tank. Another soldier was killed by a missile fired at troops in the southern Lebanese village of al-Taybeh.
The civilian casualties have been identified as: Sinati Sinati, 21, Amir Naeem, 18, Muhammad Faour, 1,7 of Tarshiha, Shimon Zaribi, 44, his 15 year-old daughter Mazal and Albert Ben-Abu, 41, Ariyeh Tamam, 51, and his brother Tiran, 39, of Akko.
The fallen soldiers were identified as: Sergeant Itamar Tsur, 19, of Beer Tuvia, Sergeant Andrei Brudner 18, of Rishon Letzion, Sergeant Alon Fintuch, 19, of Kiryat Yam, and Sergeant Yonatan Sharabi, 19.
Hizbullah fired 160 rockets at northern Israel on Thursday.
The Nahariya hospital received five seriously injured people, two who were moderately wounded in the rocket attacks, and 21 people lightly injured; 32 people suffered from shock. Two of the moderately and seriously injured are a seven year-old child, and an 18 year-old youth. A two year-old infant is lightly injured.
There are two other wounded people, one critically injured, and the second wounded, who were airlifted to the Rambam hospital in Haifa.
Israel Police and Magen David Adom emergency services reported that four people, including a man and his daughter, were killed in Akko after they left their shelter following the first barrage. Three farmers were killed in the Maalot-Tarshiha area while lying on the ground.
The heavy barrage began shortly after 4 p.m. and continued until the evening hours. Some 160 rockets were fired at Israel on Thursday; 40-50 were fired during the deadly afternoon barrage.
At 7 p.m. another rocket barrage landed in the Maalot area.
Initial reports said those killed in Akko left their shelter after the first barrage on the city to view the rocket landing sites and were then struck by shrapnel from another rocket salvo.
A number of people traveling in their cars nearby were injured from the blast, and a one car was set ablaze.
Paramedic Yuval Sabag of Akko said “we rushed to the second rocket landing site, but there was nothing we could do for the three people who were killed. We began to evacuate the wounded; one of them died on the way to the hospital.”
|Destruction in Akko (Video: Orly Dayan)|
The farmers were apparently killed while lying on the ground when a rocket landed on a road connecting Maalot to a nearby moshav.
A senior police officer said, “The three made their way from the Maalot area and parked their car on the side of the road. They were on their way to work when suddenly a Katyusha rocket landed just dozens of meters from them. They continued driving and then another rocket landed, directly strking them; additional rocket landings in the Maalot area caused a number of brushfires.”
Hatib, a resident on a village near Maalot, spotted the three farmers just moments after the rockets landed.
“On the road leading to Maalot I noticed a car parked on the side of the road with its engine turned off,” he said. “I stopped and saw the three people covered with soot. I summoned local police, and a few moments later I was told that they were dead
More rockets fell on Tiberias, Carmiel and Kiryat Shmona; sirens were heard in Haifa and the Krayot area.
Car damaged during rocket attack on Akko (Photo: Ahiya Raved)
Since the fighting in Lebanon began some 2,300 rockets landed on northern communities and surrounding areas.
Overnight Thursday Hizbullah fired a rocket salvo at Maalot around 1:30 a.m. In the early morning hours, three more barrages pounded northern Israel : Two hit the Upper Galilee and a third landed in Ma'alot.
|Rocket fire in Akko (Video: Eliran Abeksis)|
Roughly an hour after the rockets hit the North, witnesses said the IDF renewed air strikes on Beirut. According to the report, air craft fired at least four missiles towards the city’s Shiite neighborhood of Dahiya, which is considered a Hizbullah stronghold. No casualties were reported.
Rocket landing site in Kiryat Shmona (Photo: AP)
At 1:30 a.m. air raid sirens were heard in Carmiel and western Galilee communities, and residents were called to enter bomb shelters and protected rooms. Shortly afterwards, two rockets hit a community next to Maalot. One rocket directly hit a house, causing damages, and the second landed in the yard of another home.
A number of people suffered shock and were treated by emergency Magen David Adom crews. Police and firefighters also arrived on the scene and helped treat the wounded.
Thursday morning seven rockets were fired at Kiryat Shmona. They exploded in open areas without causing damage.
Thursday afternoon, Col. Yechiel Kuperstein, who heads the Protection Department in the IDF Home Front Command, presented statistics regarding hits on the home front.
According to estimates, the number of casualties who heard warning sirens was lower than of those who did not hear them. "Most of the injuries resulted from shock wave and shrapnel. When hit outside, most casualties are men. When hit indoors, most casualties are women, many of them suffering from shock," Kuperstein said.
Hagai Einav contribute to the report