By Ariella Segal and Zvi Resnick
Tazpit News Agency
Less than 24 hours since Israel launched its counteroffensive “Protective Edge” in response to increased rocket fire from Gaza, a rocket was fired from Gaza at Tel Aviv and was intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system over the city of Rishon LeZion early this evening.
Earlier on the Iron Dome defense system intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza to
Gedera, a big town south of Tel Aviv. At the same time, rockets fired at Ashkelon and elsewhere were intercepted as well. Sirens were heard in all of the Dan Region: in Tel Aviv, Givatayim, Petah Tikvah, Nes Tziona, Giv’at Shmuel, Yehud, and more. The Islamic Jihad took responsibility for firing the rocket at Tel Aviv.
The interceptions were conducted shortly after Defense Minister Moshe (Bogi) Ya’alon briefed heads of local councils in the center of Israel to prepare for rockets from Gaza.
As rockets set off warning alarms increasingly closer to the center of the country, the Home Front Command instructed the city of Tel Aviv to open all public bomb shelters and all the beaches of the city of Rishon LeZion were evacuated. Furthermore, the Dov Airport in Tel Aviv is closed for takeoffs.
Due to non-stop rocket fire from Gaza, Barzilai Hospital in the southern city of Ashkelon has decided earlier today, after consulting the Home Front Command and the Health Ministry, to evacuate premature babies and newborns to sheltered spaces. It has stated that if necessary, in tandem with further developments, the hospital management will consider evacuating more patients to sheltered spaces.
An IDF spokesperson stated that throughout last night and this morning, its forces have attacked over 140 terror targets in Gaza. Among the targets were 4 houses of Hamas operatives who are involved in terror operations and in firing of rockets towards Israel’s civilian population.
The Jerusalem Municipality is preparing for any scenario and has decided to open its public bomb shelters within the next few hours.
Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu stated that: “Israel is in the midst of a battle for the restitution of quiet and security to our citizens. We will not tolerate rockets being fired at our cities and communities. For this reason, I have ordered a significant expansion of IDF’s operations against Hamas terrorists and the terrorists of any other terror organization in Gaza. I have ordered so only after all other attempts for the restitution of peace have failed, and Hamas chose escalation. The IDF is aiming its attacks only against the Hamas terrorists, not against innocent civilians. Hamas, however, deliberately hides behind Palestinian citizens, and because of that Hamas is the one responsible when innocents are accidentally hurt. We are determined to restore peace and quiet and are acting firmly to achieve our goal so that our citizens and children may live safely”.
Since the launch of “Protective Edge” on Monday night, over 130 rockets have been fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip. Ongoing firing from Gaza into southern Israel found Israeli Air Force targeting military instillations manned and run by the different terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip. These same terrorist groups have been firing on heavily populated cities and towns in southern Israel including Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Be’er Sheva and many more. This notion of firing missiles into cities is the “new terrorism”. What Hamas used a decade ago in suicide bombers has now been replaced by missiles. It is of significance to note that these beleaguered cities are not near Israeli military instillations. The targets are purely civilian.