Video courtesy Israel Police
Eight Israelis were wounded, at least three seriously, by a Hamas mortar attack on the Eshkol region near the Gaza border on Thursday.
The seriously wounded were airlifted to Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, while the others were evacuated to other hospitals.
Late on Thursday night, mortar shells were again fired on southern Israel, at a spot where soldiers had gathered.
Military sources reported that there were several casualties, but no details had been released by press time.
Earlier in the afternoon, a rocket struck an apartment building in Kiryat Gat and shrapnel seriously wounded a 30-year-old man. He was rushed to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. A teenage girl and a 60-year-old man were lightly hurt from shrapnel, and vehicles in the parking lot of the building were set alight.
Security cameras captured the attack, showing that the wounded people had chosen not to run to a bomb shelter.
Gazans fired more than 100 rockets and mortar shells into Israel on Thursday. The Iron Dome system intercepted 13 of the rockets, and at least seven hit populated areas. The projectiles include salvos fired at four cities – Tel Aviv, Beersheba, Ashkelon and Sderot.
Around 50 of the rockets struck in the Gaza Strip, the army said.
On Thursday night, a large number of soldiers were deployed around Kibbutz Zikim, on the coast adjacent to Gaza, after residents reported suspicious movement. The residents were ordered to stay in their homes as the soldiers searched for terrorists.
Magen David Adom reported that 26 Israelis were wounded in the day’s rocket attacks.
Most were treated for light injuries and/or shock. Since Operation Protective Edge began on July 8, three Israeli civilians have been killed and 625 others treated for injuries due to Gazan attacks, MDA said.
From midnight on Wednesday to 8 p.m. on Thursday, the air force struck at least 80 targets across the Gaza Strip.
In the last 24 hours, the IAF destroyed a total of 110 targets in the Strip out of some 4,200 hit since the start of the campaign 24 days ago.
On Thursday, some of the 16,000 reservists called up the previous night were deployed.
The troops will allow the military to rotate units in the field.
A total of 86,000 reservists have been called up since the start of the war.
The IAF is continuing to strike Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets, based on newly arrived intelligence, some of which comes from the ground forces inside the Gaza Strip.
In Gaza, IDF soldiers fought gun battles with Hamas fighters. In one instance, paratroopers identified five terrorists and called in an air strike, which killed all five. The Givati Brigade’s Tzabar Battalion killed two gunmen in firefights in southern Gaza early in the morning.
The IDF said it destroyed several Hamas tunnels in the past 24 hours and found a number of shafts that may be linked up to other tunnels.
The death toll for the war on the Israeli side stood at 59 – 56 soldiers and three civilians (one of them a farm worker from Thailand).
The three soldiers killed on Wednesday by a booby-trap detonated as they uncovered a tunnel shaft in a medical clinic were buried on Thursday: St.-Sgt. Matan Gotlib, 21, in Rishon Lezion, St.-Sgt. Omer Hay, 21, in Savyon, and St.-Sgt. Guy Algranati, 20, in Tel Aviv.
OC Southern Command Maj.- Gen. Sami Turgeman said the IDF was “but a few days away from destroying all the attack tunnels.”
The army said more than 30 of the secret passages had been found so far and half of them blown up.
In the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, the death toll surpassed 1,400 with thousands more wounded in the fighting, according to Hamas officials.
Military sources said that those killed includes hundreds of Hamas fighters.
The UN voiced anger on Thursday over the deaths a day earlier of at least 15 Palestinians among thousands sheltering at a school whose UN administrator said appeared to have been hit by Israeli artillery.
“It is outrageous. It is unjustifiable.
And it demands accountability and justice,” Ban said.
The IDF said its forces were attacked by guerrillas near the school, in northern Jabalya, and had fired back. It did not immediately comment on another incident, in nearby the Shejaia neighborhood of Gaza City, in which Palestinian officials said 17 people were killed by Israeli shelling near a produce market.
Rolling Israeli ground assaults on residential areas, prefaced by mass-warnings to evacuate, have displaced more than 200,000 of Gaza’s 1.8 million Palestinians, Reuters reported. The territory’s infrastructure is in ruin, with power and water outages, it said.
Reuters contributed to this report.