The IDF pounded terrorist targets in Gaza as Hamas continued to fire rockets at Israeli communities on Saturday, the second day of violence since Egyptian-led attempts to renew the cease-fire collapsed in Cairo.
Hamas marked the expiration of the three-day cease-fire on Friday morning with a barrage of rockets on the South. The IDF responded with strikes on the Gaza Strip that left several Palestinians dead, Hamas health officials said. Gazans fired 94 rockets and mortar shells into Israel from the end of the cease-fire at 8 a.m. on Friday through 10 o’clock on Saturday night, including 65 on Friday alone. The Iron Dome intercepted five of the rockets fired on Friday. All 29 rockets fired on Saturday were headed for open areas and so the Iron Dome operators did not attempt to stop them.
On Friday, shrapnel from a mortar shell that struck in the Sha’ar Negev region wounded three people, including a 71-year-old man who was seriously wounded and lost a great deal of blood, Magen David Adom said. A 20-year-old man and another Israeli were slightly hurt by the shrapnel.
The rockets fired from Gaza since Friday morning focused on southern Israel, reaching as far as Ashkelon and Beersheba. Most targeted communities are close to the Strip.
Although Gazans fired almost 100 rockets and shells over the weekend, it was below the average of the initial 29 days of Operation Protective Edge before the cease-fire, which saw more than 100 rockets launched each day.
The air force hit some 120 targets in Gaza over the weekend, including two terrorists riding a motorcycle in central Gaza, the IDF Spokesman said.
Palestinians reported that an Israeli strike on a car in Rafah in southern Gaza killed two people. Other Palestinian reports said an air force strike killed a man in the Nuseirat refugee camp, in the central Gaza Strip.
Five Palestinians were killed in the renewed air raids in Gaza and several others were wounded, Palestinian sources reported, claiming that three bodies were uncovered from the rubble of a mosque that the IAF hit.
Palestinian media reported that a home and a farm in Khan Yunis were destroyed overnight and that two homes in Rafah were bombed. The Palestinian news agency Ma’an added that since the early morning, the Israel Air Force had struck an agricultural field near Gaza City, two mosques in Nuseirat, and another in Gaza City’s Zeitun neighborhood.
Lt.-Col. Peter Lerner, the IDF’s spokesman for foreign media, blasted Hamas in an interview with CNN’s New Day program on Saturday for using Gaza as a launching pad for attacks and said Israel would strike back as long as the terrorists attacked Israel.
The 32 terrorist tunnels the army destroyed during Operation Protective Shield were designed to provide terrorists with access to Israel to attack civilians, Lerner said, adding, “That is no longer a threat.”
The tunnels were the reason the army went into Gaza, the officer said.
“We needed to be on the ground” to prevent terrorists from having multiple access points to Israel, he said.
Asked about the much buzzedabout IDF tweet, “Every rocket fired by Hamas is meant to kill Israeli civilians. Every rocket is a war crime.” Lerner said the army was acting with “explicit care” so as to limit the impact on civilians in Gaza.
“We did not want to go into Gaza,” he said. “We had no choice. What would the United States do and expect its military to do if it were targeted by Islamist terrorist organizations?”