JERUSALEM—More than two weeks of bombing between Hamas in Gaza and Israel took a turn for the worse with the deaths of at least 14 people in the Gaza Strip and 3 people in southern Israel since Wednesday. 3 Israeli soldiers were also injured.
In the past day alone, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that over 300 missiles have been fired from Gaza into Israel. The IDF deployed their Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, and said they intercepted 105 rockets fired from Gaza, while 274 more have struck Israel.
In Gaza, the Israel Air Force (IAF) struck at least 100 of 250 targets they aimed for. While most of the information about casualties in Gaza is coming from the Israeli and Arab media, the death of a 7 year-old girl there has been widely reported.
In an unusual development, two locations in central Israel were also impacted by the crossfire. In Tel Aviv, a siren warned of an incoming bomb, but the point of impact could not be determined, leading to speculation that it landed in the Mediterranean. The last time a bomb siren was set off in Tel Aviv was during the Gulf War. In the town of Rishon LeZiyyon, one rocket fell but there were no injuries.
Israel’s alarm system for incoming rockets is activated about 90 seconds prior to impact.
The violent escalation of force on both sides came almost immediately after the IDF incinerated Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari’s car with a targeted airstrike on Wednesday.
On Thursday night, IDF Spokesperson Yoav (Poly) Mordechai said in a statement to the media that it “will not be a quiet night” in the Gaza Strip. The IDF has been authorized to recall 30,000 reserve troops and is considering ground movement into Gaza.
The official name for the IDF campaign, Pillar of Defense, aims to both protect Israeli citizens and “cripple the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with President Obama by phone on Thursday night. Earlier in the day he spoke with Vice President Biden and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton. He is expected to speak with other world leaders as well.
“Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others are deliberately harming our citizens, while intentionally hiding behind their citizens,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
The death of 3 Israelis from rocket fire in the southern Israeli town of Kiryat Malachi has seriously complicated the conflict.
Yedidah Halevy, a commander and volunteer with the emergency response organization ZAKA, was one of the responders who attended to the fatal missile attack in Kiryat Malachi.
“I live in the adjacent street to the building which received a direct hit,” stated Halevy in a mass email that was sent to the media by Israel’s Government Press Office. “I heard the explosion and ran in the direction of the smoke. To my sorrow, two men and a woman were killed on the top floor of the building. The apartment suffered a direct hit, with shrapnel throughout the rooms.”
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