Gaza's terror groups continued to fire rockets on Israel's south overnight and on Thursday. Three people – two men and a woman – were killed in the morning when a rocket hit an apartment building in the city of Kiryat Malachi.
On thursday afternoon, three soldiers were injured when a mortar shell hit in the Eshkol region. Two sustained moderate wounds while the third was lightly hurt. The troops were airlifted to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.
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The victims of the Kiryat Malachi attacks didn't make it to the fortified stairwell in their building, which did not have a viable shelter. Two people were seriously injured in the blast, one boy was moderately hurt and two infants sustained light wounds. Several others suffered panic attacks. Another building in the city was directly hit, but no injuries were reported. Hamas' military wing accepted responsibility for the attacks.
Baby injured in Kiryat Malachi (Photo: Gideon Rahamim)
Over 50 rockets were fired since morning, and the count climbed by the minute. Several were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system. One rocket hit the front yard of a home in Shaar Hanegev on Thursday afternoon. Another hit an open area in Ashkelon.
Earlier in the day, a rocket barrage targeted Ashdod, with one projectile hitting a home but failing to cause casualties. A school in Ofakim was also hit. Salvos targeted Beersheba, Ashkelon and Gan Yavne and other areas as well. Some of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
Site of mortar blast that injured troops (Photo: Yoav Zitun)
IDF Commissioner Yohanan Danino told Ynet that the tension in the south is expected to last for several days, and that the rocket fire is set to intensify. He said that despite Israel's advanced aerial defense and warning systems, civilian vigilance is of the essence.
Earlier still, at around 6:20 am, four rockets were fired at Beersheba. No injuries were reported.
An additional five rockets were fired at the Eshkol Regional Council overnight without causing injuries or damage. More than 110 rockets were fired at Israel since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense that was launched Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the IDF continued to strike Gaza and hit several terrorist targets including rocket launching sites. The Palestinians reported that three people were killed in a strike on Khan Younis.
Also Thursday, a United Nations Security Council emergency meeting on Operation Pillar of Defense ended after 90 minutes without any resolution.
During the meeting, held at the request of Egypt, Morocco and the Palestinians, the representatives of the 15 member states were briefed on the developments by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman.
The Palestinian Authority's UN envoy, Riyad Mansour, told the Security Council, "Once again the international community is witness to Israel's malicious onslaught, using the most lethal military means and illegal measures against the defenseless Palestinian civilian population."
Iron Dome in action on Thursday (Photo: AP)
He urged the council to act. "A direct firm message must be sent to Israel to cease immediately its military campaign against the Palestinian people and to abide ... by its obligations under international law," Mansour said, according to a text of his statement distributed to reporters.
"The Israeli occupying forces are now mobilizing on the ground as we speak," Mansour said. "Fear and panic are spreading among the Palestinian civilian population."
US ambassador Susan Rice strongly defended Israel's military response to the "vicious" Hamas attacks.
While Arab envoys called on the council to condemn Israel's attacks, Rice said there was no justification for the violence that "Hamas and other terrorist organizations" are aiming at Israel.
Damage in Gaza (Photo: Reuters)
Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor said after the meeting that some of the representatives supported Israel's right to self-defense and condemned the indiscriminate attacks against civilians.
Arab envoys dubbed the meeting "useless." The UNSC president said there was no attempt to reach a decision.
Results of IDF airstrikes (Photo: EPA)
Speaking at the meeting, Prosor said, "All of you in this Chamber know that is not the first time that I have spoken to this Council about the frightening reality facing the people of Southern Israel. It is not the first time that I have warned about the explosive potential of the situation in Gaza.
I have raised the issue in speech after speech, in letter after letter, in meeting after meeting. The Council did nothing. It said nothing. Not one word.
"We have demonstrated maximum restraint for years, but the Israeli Government has a right and a duty to respond to these attacks. Israel will not play Russian Roulette with the lives of our citizens."
Operation Pillar of Defense (Photo: AP)
Prior to the meeting, Prosor urged the international community to condemn "indiscriminate rocket fire against Israeli citizens - children, women."
Meanwhile, Sudanese Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, speaking on behalf of a group of Arab ambassadors, urged the council to condemn Israel's "barbaric heinous attack."
Nearly 200 rockets were fired at Israel since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense.
Medical sources in Gaza said that 10 Palestinians were killed in Israeli airstrikes, including Ahmed Jabari. They claim that 45 people were hurt including 10 in critical condition. According to the Palestinians, among the fatalities are an 11-month-old baby and a six-year-old boy.
Yitzhak Benhorin, Ilana Curiel, Elior Levy, Yoav Zitun, Reuters and AFP contributed to this report
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