Grads, mortar shells hit south; man killed in IDF strike
Gaza fire continues: Three Grad rockets hit Ofakim area, 24 mortar shells explode in open areas in Eshkol Regional Council. Damage caused to several structures, no injuries reported. Gaza source says one Palestinian died, another injured in IDF strike in Jabalya
Three Grad rockets exploded in the Ofakim area on Saturday. One rocket exploded near a school fence in the Merchavim Regional Council and caused minor damage, the second landed in an open area and the third has yet to be traced. Sirens were sounded in the region.
A mortar shell fired from the Gaza Strip exploded near a kibbutz secretariat in the Eshkol Regional Council and caused damage to the building.
Earlier on Saturday, 24 mortar shells exploded in open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries or damage were reported. Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad's military wing claimed responsibility for the firing of Grad rockets.
Sources in the Gaza Strip said that one Palestinian was killed after the IDF attacked a cell moving east of Jabalya, and another was injured.
Grad rocket in Ofakim (Photo: Herzl Yosef)
Since Friday, 12 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip have been killed. Three Hamas commanders were killed in an Air Force strike overnight. They were identified as regiment commander Taysir Abu Snima, platoon commander Mohammad Awaja, and Shadi Zatame.
Rocket fire from the Gaza Strip continued throughout the night. The Iron Dome anti-rocket system intercepted two Grad rockets fired at Beersheba, southern Israel’s largest city, and at the town of Ofakim early Saturday. Other rockets exploded in open areas north of Ashdod and Nitsanim.
Five residents in both cities were lightly hurt while rushing to local bomb shelters after the anti-rocket siren was activated.
Damage caused to building in Eshkol Regional Council (Photo: Roee Idan)
Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said Saturday that Israel has not yet employed all its anti-terror means. "Israel has many more means to retrieve deterrence and we shall work to prevent Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip to try and hurt us."
He added: "Until there is willingness for peace, we know we are exposed to recurring cycles of terror. We shall work to renew our deterrence."
"Hamas got the message'
After 36 hours of extensive strikes across Gaza, the defense establishment is reviewing the extent of damage caused to Hamas. Some IDF officers believe the message has been received while others fear that should the army hold its fire too soon, Hamas would interpret it as an unfulfilled threat to a wider response.
Military sources said that the current round of fighting should be analyzed in a wider context. "Under the sensitive circumstances in Gaza, it is not always right to use heavy power, but set a comparative equation," one IDF source said.
It was also stated that the other side appears to be getting the message the army is trying to convey with its strikes. "We shall look into the situation carefully and respond to any event, however we have no intention of creating further escalation."
The escalation began on Thursday after Hamas fired an anti-tank missile at a school bus in the Sha'ar Henegev Regional Council. A 16-year-old boy was badly injured. The bus driver sustained light wounds.
Hamas said the attack was a response to the elimination of a terrorist cell last weekend. The IDF retaliated by carrying out extensive strikes in Gaza.
Elior Levy contributed to this report
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