Gaza militants fire rockets at Israeli south; casualties, damage reported

More than 40 rockets fired into southern Israel; eight people wounded, one seriously; Iron Dome intercepts six rockets fired at Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Be’er Sheva; Israel launches Gaza strikes and kills three Islamic Jihad militants.

 

Rocket barrage from Gaza continues. Over 40 rockets were fired from Gaza to Israel’s southern cities and towns. Eight people were injured, some damage was reported.

Rockets had also fallen in Be’er Sheva, Ashdod, Kiryat Malachi, Netivot, and Ashkelon; these rockets either fell in open area or were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system, causing no damage, or casualties.

rocket Casualty - Eli Hershkovitz - 10092012
Casualty from rocket barrage fired from Gaza being rushed to hospital.
Photo by: Eli Hershkovitz
Altogether, the IDF reports that the Iron Dome system intercepted six rockets.

A rocket that fell in a town in the Be’er Tuvia Regional Council caused damage to a house, but no casualties.

The Israeli air force, reports that it attacked three sites in Gaza where rocket launchers were being prepared to fire at Israeli towns.

rockets - AFP - April 10 2011

An Iron Dome missile outside Ashkelon responding to a rocket launch from the Gaza Strip in April 2011 - Photo bt AFP

One person was seriously wounded by a mortar shell that exploded in the Eshkol Regional Council, and two more were moderately and lightly hurt. The three were evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva.

Earlier Friday, two other persons were wounded in a car accident caused after a Grad rocket fell near the southern Israeli city of Ashdod. Three more Israelis were lightly wounded when they fell trying to reach bomb shelters when the alarm sounded.

IDF Gaza strike - AFP - March 9, 2012

A Hamas policeman inspects the remains of a vehicle after it was targeted by an Israeli air strike that killed the head of the Popular Resistance Committees militant group in Gaza, March 9, 2012 - Photo by AFP

Several Grad rockets were fired toward the southern Israeli city of Ashdod – two were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system, and one exploded in an open area near the city. There were no casualties but slight damage was done to a house.

More rockets were fired at Be’er Sheva, some exploded in open areas others were intercepted by Iron Dome. The anti-missile system also successfully intercepted rockets that were fired toward Ashkelon.

Leader of the Popular Resistance Committees Zuhir al-Qaisi.

Leader of the Popular Resistance Committees Zuhir al-Qaisi - Photo by AFP

Amid the rocket fire, IDF forces launched two more strikes on Gaza targets, killing three Islamic Jihad militants who were preparing to fire rockets into Israel.

According to the Palestinians, ten people were killed in the IAF raids on Gaza.

Israeli cities near the Gaza border were put on high alert on Friday evening, and the residents have been asked to stay close to bomb shelters. Highway 12, which runs along the Israel-Egypt border, was closed to traffic, and will remain closed on Saturday as well.

The hit on the secretary-general of the Popular Resistance Committees, Zuhir al-Qaisi, came after the IDF learned that he had been planning a terror attack on Israel’s Highway 12, which runs along the Egypt-Israel border, and was the site of a deadly terror attack in August 2011, in which eight Israelis were killed.

According to the IDF Spokesperson, al-Qaisi was one of the organizers of the August attack.

al-Qaisi was reportedly in his car in northern Gaza, along with his collaborator Mahmoud Hanani, when IDF forces fired two missiles at the vehicle and killed the two.

al-Qaisi, the IDF Spokesman said, was recently organizing a large, coordinated terror attack to be carried out on Israel’s border with Gaza. Hanani, a resident of Nablus, and one of the prisoners freed as part of the deal to release Gilad Shalit, and was expelled to the Gaza Strip.

The Popular Resistance Committees responded Friday to the attack, and vowed to avenge al-Qaisi’s death in a way that would “shake the Zionist enemy.”

Hamas’ spokesman in Gaza said in response to the attack that the Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves.

Earlier Friday, prior to the IDF attack, two mortar bombs were fired into Israeli territory.

IDF officials, speaking with Army Radio following the mortar attack launched by Gaza militates, called the volley “unprovoked” and indicated that it was not in response to any army operations in the coastal enclave.

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By Yanir Yagna, Gili Cohen and Avi Issacharoff

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