For the first time, the new “Badr 3″ rocket was used to hit the city of Ashkelon, with a 250-kilogram (551 lb) warhead being used in place of a 40-kilogram (88 lb) warhead.
The rocket was fired by the so-called “Al Quds Brigade,” the well-heeled armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad that has been generously supported in the past few years by Iran.
The group is threatening that “what is coming next will be even greater.”
After multiple rounds of deadly rocket barrages that led to the deaths of four Israelis, sources in Gaza claimed Sunday evening that a ceasefire was to take hold at midnight Sunday night.
Israel did not confirm the report, which was clearly seen as “fake news” around midnight as fresh rocket attacks were launched from the enclave.
The IDF is meanwhile continuing to build up its forces along the Gaza border. By evening, hundreds of Merkava Mark IV tanks, armored personnel carriers and D9 bulldozers were arrayed in staging grounds along with the elite Golani Brigade combat troops to operate them, and the 7th Armored Brigade which was moved to the area earlier in the day.
Between Saturday morning and Sunday evening, more than 700 rockets and mortar shells were fired from Gaza at Israeli civilians living in southern communities along the border, cities in the Negev, the coastal plain, and in major cities such as Be’er Sheva, Ashkelon and Ashdod.
Four Israelis were killed, including one Bedouin Israeli who was killed while working at a factory in the Ashkelon Industrial Zone.
A total of 136 people were treated at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center, including 64 who were suffering shock. At Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva, a total of 70 casualties were treated since the start of the conflict, including 36 who were treated for shock, and two IDF soldiers who were injured in a mortar attack by Hamas.
The security cabinet instructed the IDF to continue attacks in Gaza, and to increase the intensity of those attacks.