Southern Israel under heavy fire: Eight people were wounded Friday, one of them seriously, following a rocker salvo at southern Israel by Gaza terrorists.
More than 40 rockets and mortar shells were launched at Israel's south throughout the day, prompting the Air Force to mount several strikes on Gaza terror cells, killing 12 Islamic Jihad operatives.
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Palestinian sources reported that the IAF struck a terror cell in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya around 2 am, killing two Islamic Jihad operatives. Four others were injured in another strike in central Gaza.
According to the IDF, shortly after midnight, the IAF targeted two terror cells gearing to fire rockets at Israel, killing two terrorists. Palestinian sources said at least two people were killed in the strike, near the Palestinian parliament in central Gaza City.
Iron dome in action
According to Magen David Adom emergency services, three people sustained rocket moderate shrapnel wounds, three others were lightly hurt while running for cover, and two others were involved in a car accident as result of the panic. The injured were rushed to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.
In the early evening hourse, the Iron Dome rocket defense system intercepted at least four Grad rockets fired at the southern communities of Ashdod, Gan Yavne and Kiryat Malachi.
The Color Red alert sounded in the Ashdod region immediately after the long-range rockets were fired, prompting residents to rush into bomb shelters and secured rooms. At least one rocket landed in an open area in the city's vicinity.
Late Friday night, the Color Red alert sounded in Beersheba, southern Israel's largest city. The Iron Dome system engaged and several explosions were reported in the area. Officials later said several rockets hit the city's outskirts.
The Air Force targeted several terror cells in Gaza during the evening, killing at least three Islamic Jihad terrorists.
An IDF security assessment prompted the Home Front Command to bar mass gatherings within a 40km radius of the Gaza border, as well as order more public bomb sheltered opened.
Grad landing site (Photo: Roee Idan)
Egyptian Ambassador to the Palestinian Authority Yasser Osman condemned what he called "the Israeli aggression against the Palestinians," and "Israel's violations of the ceasefire agreement."
The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas military wing, threatened Friday to "retaliate over Israel's crimes against the rights of the Palestinian people and the commanders of the resistance in Gaza."
Hamas' Interior Ministry said that the security forces' headquarters in Gaza City have been evacuated over concerns of a possible IAF strike.
Gaza terror chief killedThe latest round of fighting in the Gaza region began Friday afternoon, after the IDF targeted a vehicle traveling in Gaza City, killing Popular Resistance Committees' Secretary General Zuhir al-Qaisi and another senior group figure recently freed in the Gilad Shalit swap.
The army said al-Qaisi was in final stages of planning a major terror attack at Israeli targets on the Egypt border.
The Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for most rockets fired at Israel Friday, after earlier vowing to avenge the killing of the group's leader. A spokesman for Nasser Salah-al-Din Brigades, the organization's military wing, said the group ordered its fighters to respond to Qaisi's assassination.
"By harming secretary-general al-Qaisi, the Zionist enemy opened the doors of hell and revenge," he said. "The response will be of the same scope as the despicable crime."
Yoav Zitun and Ilana Curiel contributed to the story
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