With Operation Pillar of Defense
well into its second day, the IDF said on Thursday afternoon it has hit some 200 terror targets in Gaza since launching the offensive.
According to top army officials, strikes were mounted around the clock. Fighter jets have been dispatched for the operation.
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz continued on Thursday to orchestrate the operation from the army's headquarters in Tel Aviv. The army expected Gaza terror groups to step up their rocket-launching efforts,
which are expected to peak around 11:30am Thursday, during Al-Jabari's funeral. Over 110 rockets were fired on Israel since the beginning of the operation, primarily towards Beersheba. Most were intercepted, while the rest exploded in open areas. Some caused damage.
|IDF strikes Gaza rocket launchers|
The bulk of the rockets are launched from refugee camps in the center of the Gaza Strip, including Khan Younis and Bureij. Around 6 am the IAF took out a Hamas cell that consisted of three operatives who were preparing to fire rockets on Beersheba. Since Saturday, five terror cells were struck while attempting to launch rockets on Israel.
The army noted that the Islamic Jihad was also hit hard in the strikes, with weapon caches and labs being destroyed.
Running for cover in Ashdod (Photo: Amir Levy)
The IDF further said that many of the weapon storage facilities that were targeted were located in civilian buildings. In addition to airstrikes, that army shelled terror hubs using tanks.
The IAF began airdropping leaflets on Gaza early on Thursday morning, warning civilians to stay away from terror hubs. The IDF stressed that terrorists are the targets of the army's strikes, not civilians.
The attacks focused on underground launchers of Fajr rockets, which can reach Herzliya. F-16 fighter jets are taking part in the current wave of strikes in Gaza. The strikes were carried out simultaneously so as not to give the terrorists in Gaza an opportunity to transport the six-meter-long rockets to alternate locations.
IDF Intelligence has yet to identify an attempt to launch rockets at Tel Aviv, but the terrorists are still in possession of some Fajr rockets that are capable of reaching the city.
The IDF further said that all Gaza terror groups have taken part in the latest escalation in rocket fire, with Hamas leading the efforts. The army denied Palestinian reports that the terrorists attempted to fire on an Israeli missile ship and on Tel Aviv.