Police surveying damage of building in Eshkol, August 21, 2014..
(photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
One person was moderately-to-seriously injured on Thursday morning as heavy rocket fire targeted southern Israel after Hamas vowed to avenge IDF strikes that killed three Hamas commanders in Gaza overnight.
"Israel will pay a heavy price for the assassination of senior commanders," a Hamas spokesman warned. Security sources confirmed Thursday morning that IAF aircraft had fired missiles at a building in Rafah that housed Ra'ad Atar and Muhammad Abu Shamalah, killing them both. A third lower ranking terrorist was also killed. Abu Shamalah had been one of the main planners of the abduction of Gilad Schalit.
Some 12 mortar shells and rockets from Gaza targted Nir Oz in the Eshkol Regional Council on Thursday morning. One of the projectiles hit a building, moderately wounding a person. A number of cows were killed by a projectile that hit a cowshed. The injured man was being treated at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba for shrapnel wounds in his shoulder.
A salvo of rockets was also fired toward the Beersheba area setting off sirens in Negev communities. There were no injuries or damage reported in the attacks.
Later, just before noon, sirens were heard in the Ramle area, not far from Ben-Gurion Airport. Police later found one rocket that landed in an open area near the city. Around the same time, rocket sirens sounded in Ashdod and Ashkelon. Four rockets landed in open area of Ashdod, causing no injury or damage, and Iron Dombe shot down an additional rocket over Ashkelon.
At noon, the IDF said a total of 23 rockets had been fired at Israel since midnight, one of which the Iron Dome intercepted.
Since Hamas broke the cease-fire on Tuesday afternoon, more than 230 rockets have been fired from Gaza, 37 of which were intercepted by Iron Dome and 16 of which failed to pass the border fence, falling within Gaza.
The IDF has responded with more than 150 strikes in Gaza. Following Thursday morning's rocket fire, the IDF targeted six Islamic Jihad operatives involved in projectile fire.
Palestinian medics reported 19 deaths on Thursday in addition to the three Hamas commanders that were killed.
Yaakov Lappin and Ben Hartman contributed to this report.