Israeli communities close to the Gaza Strip came under persistent rocket fire Thursday, hours after a heavy rocket salvo fired by the terrorist groups in the enclave targeted most of southern and central Israel overnight, with one projectile hitting a Petah Tikva home.
Sirens sounds repeated throughout Thursday morning, sending residents of the border region into their bomb shelters again and again.
The home in Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv took a direct hit from a rocket shortly after 1am (local time), starting a fire and leaving five people wounded.
Five residents were hurt from smoke inhalation and shrapnel — four of them sustained injuries and one resident was moderately wounded from shattered glass during the explosion.
Rescue teams evacuated the building and several adjacent residences. Firefighters arrived at the scene, and within minutes, got control of the fire which also engulfed several vehicles.
"I did not think it would happen here, in my house in Petah Tikva," said Hadas, a tenant in one of the buildings, and burst into tears.
"We went down to the bomb shelter, we heard an alarm and suddenly there was a bang. Smoke entered the shelter, and the neighbor next to me who was sitting on a chair flew back. One of the neighbors did not get into the shelter in time, was hit in the head and started bleeding. Our whole house was destroyed."
Another home took a direct hit from the shrapnel of a rocket that was intercepted mid-air by the Iron Dome missile defense system over the central city of Rishon Lezion before landing.
The tenant told Ynet he was sitting in the living room with his girlfriend and that they didn't hear a siren go off before the massive shard penetrated through the kitchen ceiling.
Later in the night, air raid sirens were set off around Gaza border communities.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said that the alarms that sounded overnight in the Lower Galilee and the Jezreel Valley were used as a precautionary measure as air defense system failed to exactly gauge the landing locations of several rockets. However, there were no rocket launches at northern Israel.
Hamas' military wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for the barrage which started about an hour after the Air Force launched a massive attack in the northern Gaza Strip in which it destroyed Hamas' internal security headquarters which had served the organization's security apparatus.
The IDF said it had also destroyed Hamas' central bank in the seaside enclave and eliminated a squad of the terrorist group's naval force.
Gaza's health ministry said that 67 people had been killed so far as a result of IDF strikes in the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, the security cabinet on Wednesday night approved a plan to intensify military attacks on Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed its members that Israel has officially rejected a Hamas proposal for a ceasefire.
Israel dismissed the offer of a truce made earlier in the day via the Russian foreign ministry, which quoted a senior Hamas official as saying that the Islamist group was ready to halt attacks on a "mutual basis."
According to the military, more than 1,500 rockets had been fired from the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the current round of violence, known in Israel by the codename Guardian of the Walls.
Seven Israelis have been killed, including Ido Avigal — a 5-year-old boy killed Wednesday night when his home in the southern city of Sderot took a direct hit from a rocket. His mother Shani was seriously wounded by shrapnel that entered her breathing passage. Her life does not appear to be in danger.
Avigal's older sister Tahel (7) was lightly wounded and another cousin (6) who was also at the apartment during the attack was seriously injured.
First published: 09:20, 05.13.21