Nonstop barrage on south continues: Gaza terrorists fired more than a dozen rockets at Israel's Negev communities Monday, as the escalation on the country's southern border entered its fourth day.
Color Red alerts and air raid sirens sounded frequently across the entire southern sector, from the Gaza vicinity communities and Sderot, to Beersheba, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Gan Yavne; followed by the sounds of exploding projectiles.
The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the morning's salvo.
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Color Red alerts sounded across the greater Sderot area at noon and moment later two rockets exploded – one just outside the city's limits, and the other in on of the nearby Ashkelon Coast Regional Council. No injuries or damage were reported.
At least five grad rockets were fired at Beersheba since the early hours of the morning and the Iron Dome battery stationed in the area was successfully engaged several times. Nevertheless, one hit was reported on the city's outskirts. Two rockets were later fired at Ashdod. Both were intercepted by Iron Dome.
Shortly beforehand, three mortar shells hit two trucks carrying supplies into Gaza Strip on the Palestinian side of Kerem Shalom crossing.
Overnight, two Color Red alerts sounded in Beersheba just moments before Islamic Jihad terrorists fired Grads at the city, prompting an IAF strike on targets in Gaza Strip.
A spokesperson for the Eshkol Regional Council said that seven rockets were fired at the council's communities overnight, landing mostly in open areas. One rocket hit a kindergarten building, causing some property damage but no injuries.
Two other rockets were fired at the Lachish area, causing no harm.
Rocket landing site (Photo: Ze'ev Trachtman)
The Home Front Command reiterated its directive barring any mass gatherings of over 500 people within a 7-40km radius of the Gaza border.
The IDF advised the area's residents to remain close to shelters and abide by security forces' orders.
In accordance with the Home Front Command recommendations, IDF soldiers sent to reinforce the Gaza division troops, have begun escorting school buses in the Gaza vicinity communities, in order to help guide the children in case a Red Color alert is sounded.
'IDF targeting top Jihadists'
Palestinian sources reported two IAF strikes in the Strip's north and south, causing 35 civilian casualties.
According to one report, an operative with the al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad's military wing, was killed in one of the strikes.
Palestinian sources said that one of the strikes caused a three-story building in the northern Gaza neighborhood of Jabalya to collapse, injuring 17 people. Palestinian search and rescue services were reportedly on the scene and the injured were rushed to Gaza's Kamal Aduan hospital.
Iron Dome engaging near Ashdod (Photo: Reuters)
A second strike was reported in the central Gaza Strip neighborhood of Sajaiya, injuring three people.
Palestinian sources reported that a 17-year-old student Tamar Nabil Azzam, was killed in an IAF strike in northwest Gaza.
A spokesman for the Islamic Jihad said that the IDF was trying to target top operatives, but to no avail.
Islamic Jihad Deputy Secretary-General Ziad a-Nahala denied Monday reports suggesting Egypt was negotiating a ceasefire with Gaza's militant groups.
"Israel is the aggressor and so it has to half fire first. After that, we will assess the situation and decide on a ceasefire," he said.
A-Nahala added that the Islamic Jihad has informed Cairo that it opposes any ceasefire with Israel.
Meanwhile, Riyad Mansour, the PLO's observer to the United Nations, filed a grievance over Israel's "aggression" with the Security Council, the UN General Assembly and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Mansour denounced "Israel's bloody brutality and terrorist acts against the Palestinian people," and urged a UN condemnation.
Ilana Curiel, Elior Levy, Yoav Zitun and Neri Brenner contributed to this report
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