Israel was hit by a barrage of over 200 rockets and mortars fired by terrorists in Gaza last weekend. Four of the rockets hit a house and synagogue in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, injuring four Israelis. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said that 30 projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system.
Direct rocket hits on homes have become relatively rare since the Iron Dome began intercepting most projectiles headed toward populated areas. In recent days, the IDF has deployed more Iron Dome batteries to the south of the country and the Tel Aviv area.
Civilians in 17 Israeli communities close to the Gaza border heard more than 141 red alert sirens warning people to seek shelter.
In response to the attacks, Israel carried out strikes on over 40 Hamas targets including arms depots, tunnels, the headquarters of a Hamas battalion in Beit Lahia, and a training facility in the Shati refugee camp. It was the biggest attack on Gaza terror targets since the 2014 Operation Edge Conflict. Two people were killed and 14 more were wounded in Gaza, the Hamas-run health ministry said.
A Hamas militant was killed participating in the launch of incendiary balloons into Israel. In response, Gaza-based terrorists fired two mortar shells at Israel, and Hamas’s military wing said Israel will “pay a price with its blood” for the attack.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “The IDF have struck Hamas with the hardest blow since Operation Protective Edge and we will increase the strength of our attacks as necessary”.
The IDF’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit revealed that mortar fire from Gaza terrorists had damaged a power line that supplies electricity to over 10,000 Gaza residents. They said that until Sunday, the “incessant” Hamas rocket fire prevented Israeli Electric Company technicians from reaching the fault and added that the line is now repaired with electricity restored.
Israel’s military released a video in which they showed a high-rise building in Gaza located near a playground that was regularly used by Hamas for militant training. The training facility was one of the targets struck by the IDF. According to the army, the building sat atop a tunnel that fed into a “massive” underground network through Gaza.
A statement was released by the IDF claiming that “the focus of the attack is a wide-scale strike of the Hamas Battalion HQ in Bet Lahia, which includes urban warfare training facilities, weapon storage warehouse, training compounds, command centres, offices and more”.
On Tuesday, a dead falcon was found near the border with Gaza with a harness attached to it holding flammable material. Reports suggests it was a trained bird, consolidating speculation that it was sent intentionally to start fires.
Earlier this week, following pressure from Egypt, Hamas agreed to incrementally put an end to the kite and balloon launches.