The IAF struck rocket-launching cells in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday evening after a volley of rockets and mortar shells fell in the Eshkol region earlier. Hamas said that three of its operatives were killed in the strikes, and another three were injured.

The IDF Spokesman’s Unit said the terrorist cells were about to fire projectiles into southern Israel, but were accurately struck.

The air strikes come after seven rockets and mortars bombarded the Eshkol Regional council Tuesday evening, sending local residents fleeing for cover.

The salvo included four rockets and a second wave of three projectiles. Police are investigating whether the last three were mortars or rockets.

Air raid sirens went off during the attacks and local residents fled for cover. No one was injured.

Earlier Tuesday, Palestinian terrorists detonated an explosive on the Gaza-Israel border, seriously injuring an IDF company commander.

The explosive was placed on a gate in the Kissufim region, near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha.

Army paramedics provided first aid to the officer, before airlifting him, in very serious condition, to the Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba. Doctors battled to stabilize him.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned that Israel’s response to the bomb attack would be “very hard.”

Netanyahu’s comments came at the beginning of a meeting with visiting Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev. The prime minister said Israel was engaged in a “hard battle” with the Iranian- organized world terror network.

Although Bulgaria has not yet formally pointed a finger at Iran for the attack against Israeli tourists there this summer, Netanyahu said it was an example of the Iranian terror network at work.

“Iran supported Hezbollah’s terror attacks in Bulgaria; Iran is supporting terror attacks now against us in Gaza,” he said, adding that those responsible for the attacks from Gaza were getting their instructions from “afar.”

“We will fight and we will hit them very, very hard – very hard,” Netanyahu said. “That’s the only way to fight them. The way to fight terror is to fight terror, and that we shall do with great force.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak characterized the attack as a “severe incident.”

“The IDF will know how to respond in the right way and at the right time. No person or group who harms the security of Israelis, be they IDF soldiers or civilians, will be let off, and we will fully meet our responsibility to protect civilians and allow IDF soldiers to carry out their duties,” Barak added.

The Kissufim region, which borders central Gaza, has become a daily combat zone between Hamas and its affiliated terror groups and the IDF.

Palestinian factions regularly plant bombs along the border, fire mortars at army positions, and terrorize Israeli farmers with rocket attacks.

Earlier this year, St.-Sgt. Natanel Moshiashvili was killed in a gunbattle with Palestinian terrorists who infiltrated Israel from Gaza.

Last week saw an escalation in hostilities on the Gaza front, with dozens of rockets falling on southern Israel and the IAF striking centers of terror activity in response.

Jpost.com staff contributed to this report

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