Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip continued their ongoing bombardment of Israeli territory Wednesday evening, with Code Red sirens sounding in various cities in Israel at 9 pm, including in Holon, Bat Yam, Rishon LeZion, Kiryat Malakhi, Ashdod and Ben Gurion International Airport. There were no reports of injuries or damage. At least five rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip.
Earlier in the day, a foreign worker was killed after being hit by a mortar fired from Gaza, bringing the number of civilians in Israel killed by Gaza fire to three after 16 days of Operation Pillar of Defense.
Rocket fire continued into the early evening hours, with Code Red sirens sounding in Kiryat Malakhi, Gan Yavne, Gadera and Shafir Reginal Council shortly after 6 pm. The Iron Dome intercepted two rockets above Kiryat Malakhi.
Several minutes later, sirens sounded in Ashdod and Hof Ashkelon Regional Council as well. Two rockets were intercepted above Ashdod. Four rockets landed in open territories in the area of Be'er Sheva, In the area of Eshkol Regional Council. two rockets exploded, causing damage to a vehicle.
At around 5 pm, sirens sounded in Ashdod, Hof Ashkelon Regional Council and Be'er Tuvia Regional Council. One rocket was intercepted in the area of Kiryat Malakhi. There were no reports of injuries or damage.
In the afternoon hours, a heavy salvo of projectiles reached into central Israel as far north as Rishon LeTzion at 2:30pm.
Overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday was quiet in southern Israel compared to previous nights since Operation Protective Edge began. Just before 7am however, the rocket fire was renewed when the Iron Dome missile defense system shot down a rocket over the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.
Iron Dome downed an additional rocket over Sderot at approximately 11:15am and another two over Ashkelon at 1:45pm. A high peak of fire was reached in the afternoon when four rockets over the city of Be'er Sheva were shot down while another two hit nearby open areas and the last rocket of the salvo fell in the city limits. The attack on Be'er Sheva occured at around 1:05pm.
The barrage was maintained earlier in the morning when four mortar shells from Gaza slammed into open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council just before 8am.
During the attack, a mortar hit a greenhouse in the region, seriously wounding a Thai national working in Israel who was taken to the hospital where he succumbed to his wounds.
"There was a foreign worker killed by a mortar," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.
Militants followed up on earlier attacks at around 9:45am when two rockets hit more open areas, this time in the Sdot Negev Regional Council.
Additionally, code red sirens were heard at various southern locations at 3am and later in the morning including in the city of Ashkelon just before 11am and again at 12:45.
- Heavy barrage fired at central Israel, 2 rockets intercepted in Shfela area
- US, European airlines cancel flights to Israel after rocket hits near airport
- UNRWA finds rockets in one of its Gaza schools
The greatest fear going into Wednesday however, was the potential threat that Gaza rockets present at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport. Several international airlines cancelled their flights to Israel on Tuesday, citing security concerns after a rocket from Gaza fell near the airport wounding a man.
The cancellation came from all major US owned companies as well as several based in Europe including German owned Lufthansa and its subsidiaries, Air France, and Swiss International Airlines. Most companies said that the decision would be reviewed on a day to day basis, though Lufthansa said that its flights to Tel Aviv would be suspended for at least 36 hours.
Former Shin Bet Chief Avi Dichter told Ynet Wednesday that, "Hamas' rocket capabilities are very alarming; a rocket once a week at Ben Gurion Airport is enough to wear Israel down and this is without taking into account the arms Hamas could obtain in the future."
Some made efforts to convince airline companies that Israel's main international airport remains safe, such as ex-New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg who flew to the country on an El AL flight to 'show solidarity' with Israel's struggle against Hamas in Gaza.
"The US flight restrictions are a mistake that hands Hamas an underserved victory and should be lifted immediately," said Bloomberg.