in Gaza fired at least 33 rockets and mortar shells at Israel's
western Negev region since Tuesday afternoon. No injuries or damage were reported at this time.
Three rockets hit the Netivot area at around 8:30 pm. Another rocket exploded in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, while a fifth rocket landed in the Eshkol Regional Council. All of the rockets landed in open areas.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak
called a meeting of the top military and intelligence echelon to discuss the escalation
in the southern sector. A Defense Ministry source said that "a wide range of retaliatory actions are under review."
Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino estimated Tuesday night that the current round of violence between Gaza and Israel will continue for several days: "I hope (the violence) won't expand, but we are preparing for the possibility that it may reach the larger and more distant cities," he said.
Qassam rocket in Negev (Photos: Eliad Levy)
Thirteen rockets, which were launched from Gaza Tuesday afternoon, landed in open areas within the Negev's Eshkol Regional Council. The rockets were all fired in the span of about two hours.
At around 6:30 pm another rocket exploded in an open area in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, and a few minutes later it was reported that five more Qassams landed in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. No injuries were reported.
Several rockets were fired towards Sdot Negev Regional Council as well, while five mortar shells were lobbed into the Sha'ar Hanegev and Sdot Negev regional councils.
At around 8 pm another two rockets were fired towards the western Negev, and about a half-hour later a Qassam landed in an open area in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council.
The Home Front Command instructed the area's residents to stay in very close proximity to shelters and other fortified structures.
Fire to continue?
Shortly after the initial salvo, Israeli aircraft struck a target in the Gaza Strip. The IDF said its target was destroyed. Palestinian sources in the Hamas-ruled
territory said one person was severely wounded in what they called a targeted killing attempt.
The sources said the aircraft targeted a motorcycle travelling in Dir el-Balah in central Gaza. The injured man was evacuated to Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, they said.
One of the rockets fired from Gaza exploded about a hundred meters from Negev police sub-district sappers, who were canvassing the area in search of rocket landing sites.
Another Qassam landed in a wheat field. Firefighters were alerted to the scene to contain a fire that erupted at the site.
Hamas' military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the rocket fire, saying it fired "10 Grad rockets" since noon Tuesday in response to the "Zionists' crimes."
The terror group said it would continue firing rockets as long as the IDF's strikes in Gaza persist.
Overnight, rockets fired from Gaza landed
in the Ashkelon area. The army detected the launching of four rockets, which apparently exploded in open areas. No one was hurt in that attack either.
The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack. A statement by the group said that the rockets were meant to hit the Zikim army base. On Tuesday, alert level in the Gaza vicinity communities was raised.
Shortly after midnight Israeli aircraft fired at a Palestinian terror cell as its members were attempting to plant an explosive device near the central Gaza Strip border fence.
The army said the attack target was hit. Palestinian sources later confirmed that the attack left two terrorists dead.
The attack marked the third Israeli airstrike in the Strip in the past 24 hours.
Ilana Curiel, Yoav Zitun, Boaz Fyler, Neri Brenner and Elior Levy contributed to this report