Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorists battered southern and central Israel with rocket and missile fire late in the day Tuesday.
News outlets and even incoming rocket alert systems had trouble keeping up with the number and intensity of the barrages fired from the region.
Within the half hour between 6:30 pm and 7:00 pm, residents in all the coastal cities between Gaza and Rishon Lezion were sent scrambling for shelter – including Ashkelon, Ashdod, Yavneh, metro Tel Aviv, Yafo (Jaffa) and more. At least two homes were damaged by Grad missile fire in Ashkelon.
The Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist groups claimed joint responsibility for the M75 missile attacks on Tel Aviv. Two missiles were intercepted over central Israel. Two more landed somewhere in open areas around the ‘city that never sleeps,’ an ironic moniker in this environment of what sometimes seems like endless air raid sirens warning residents to run for safety.
Cities along the Gaza further east and into the Negev region were also not spared: Kiryat Gat, Be’er Sheva, Mitzpe Ramon, Dimona, Yerucham, Yahud, Shoham and communities in the Be’er Tuvia region were included in the alerts. Two Grad missiles exploded in open areas on the outskirts of the city of Be’er Sheva.
But it was the communities in the Gaza Belt region that took the biggest walloping throughout the day – and continue to be hit as the day gives way to the night — and it was in that area that Israel’s first casualty occurred Tuesday evening.
A man was critically injured at around 7 pm after being caught in a mortar attack near the Erez border crossing. He died of the multiple shrapnel wounds he sustained shortly after the shelling. The friend who accompanied him to distribute snacks to the soldiers at the front — and who was still in the car at the time of the attack — was not as severely wounded; he is listed in good condition.
The attack took place at the same crossing used to allow Gaza Arabs to enter for medical treatment at some of the best hospitals in Israel, and international workers to enter Gaza to help local residents. With only a 15-second window of time to reach shelter, shrapnel from the mortar shells reached the fleeing victim before he was able to reach a safe space.
The cities of Sderot, Ofakim and Netivot and the Sdot Negev, Sha’ar HaNegev and Eshkol Regional Council districts were pummeled unmercifully, with rocket barrages coming in clusters at times as often as every 90 seconds.
The IDF has struck at least 30 terror targets since abandoning the “cease fire” at noon on Tuesday. Terrorist tunnels, weapons factories and concealed rocket launchers were among the targets taken out, IDF sources said. One terrorist was eliminated as he was preparing to launch a rocket attack from northern Gaza.
At least 118 rockets have landed within Gaza since the start of Operation Protective Edge, according to IDF officials, all of which were malfunctions that occurred when Arab terrorists attempted to attack Israel and failed.
Nevertheless, Gaza terrorists have successfully launched more than 700 missiles and rockets at civilian communities from the south to the north in the Jewish State.
Israel’s Security Cabinet is scheduled to convene tonight (July 15) in Tel Aviv at 9 pm to determine the next step in Operation Protective Edge.
Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman told reporters at a briefing late this afternoon that he believes the IDF should go “all the way” and enter Gaza with a ground operation, without stopping until the region is back under full Israeli control.