Dozens of rockets hit southern Israel on Monday prompting air strikes on Gaza.
By Yaakov Lappin / JPost.com (Monday, 7 July 2014)
The IAF struck targets in the Gaza Strip on Monday after communities in the western Negev came under heavy rocket fire throughout the day.
More than 30 rockets pounded southern Israeli communities on Monday, with one Grad rocket reaching as far as Beersheba. The Eshkol and Sha’ar Hanegev areas were heavily hit by rocket fire on Thursday morning and afternoon.
IAF aircraft struck three underground rocket launchers in the northern Gaza Strip in response to the fire. Palestinians reported that a 4-year-old boy was moderately injured in the air strike. The IAF later struck an attack tunnel in southern Gaza that was aimed at carrying out a terror attack against Israeli civilians.
The Security Cabinet met on Monday to discuss possible responses to the continued projectile fire from Gaza which has seen some 150 rockets hit Israel’s southern communities in recent weeks.
The IAF struck 14 targets in Gaza overnight Monday in two waves of air strikes. Nine terrorists – including seven Hamas operatives who were in a tunnel in Rafah – were killed.
Hamas claimed that the terror operatives were all killed in the air strikes, however, a senior IDF source on Monday said that the seven Hamas members in the tunnel died as a result of explosives they planted in an underground assault tunnel aimed at an IDF target.
“This was designed to enable a significant terror attack,” the source said. “In recent days, we have operated in this area, and we will continue to act against the threat of tunnels in the coming days,” he added.
The seven Hamas members did not die as a result of an Israeli air strike, the source explained. The tunnel was found by the army a few days ago.
In the second wave of strikes, launched a few hours later, five underground rocket launchers were bombed in Gaza.
Earlier, on Sunday night, the IAF struck a terrorist cell in central Gaza which was in the process of carrying out a rocket attack on Israel, the IDF said. Two terrorists were killed in that strike.
Hamas said most of the strikes were launched at a gathering point for its members in Gaza’s southern-most town of Rafah, at the Egyptian border. Another strike was launched in northern Gaza, it said.
Nine Hamas fighters were killed and four people were wounded in the attacks, the group’s armed wing said in a statement.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Israel of committing a “grave escalation” in violence and threatened to retaliate, saying Israel would “pay the price.”
Also overnight, adding to tensions, a mortar shell was launched into the Golan Heights from Syria and the IDF retaliated by shooting at targets across the border.