At least several Israelis who were hoping that fewer attacks earlier in the day might mean the hope of a cease fire bitterly told a call-in show on Army Radio there “was no cease fire and never was” by Monday evening.
Just after 6:30 pm local time, Hamas unleashed a massive barrage of medium-range rocket fire aimed at Israel’s coastal cities.
The attacks were launched following one in which Gaza Belt communities were shelled in the Eshkol Regional Council district.
The surprise attack left four Israelis dead and at least nine others wounded – the first such deadly attack so far in the 21-day conflict – but none of the dead or wounded were residents of Eshkol.
Within the hour, Hamas began a barrage of rocket fire in which launches were barely three minutes apart.
Ashdod, Ashkelon and cities in between were all targeted, with Iron Dome anti-missile defense system operators busy at the controls. Three missiles were intercepted over Ashdod, with another shot down over Ofakim.
But then a massive barrage was unleashed, with Code Red alerts heard in all Gaza Belt communities and up along the Mediterranean coast as far north as northern Carmel.
Residents in Gedera, Zichron Ya’akov, Caesarea, and Hadera all were sent racing for shelter again, something they haven’t done in more than a week.
In the wake of the Eshkol shelling, the IDF has begun making phone calls and sent SMS text messages to the civilian population of Shejaiya, Zeitoun and eastern Jabalya. Residents in those areas were warned to immediately evacuate themselves towards the central area of Gaza City.