Rocket barrages from Gaza continued to pound southern and central Israel on Wednesday, and Hamas struck its northern- most and eastern-most targets to date as it fired long-range rockets at Zichron Ya’acov and Dimona.
Soon thereafter, the Palestinians fired rockets at Rehovot and Ness Ziona, triggering Color Red sirens. One rocket hit in the Yavne area. Two projectiles, likely Syrian-made M302 projectiles, hit in open areas near Zichron Ya’acov, some 60 km. north of Tel Aviv, but did not cause injuries.
Gazan terrorists fired three rockets at the Holon-Bat Yam area in the afternoon; the Iron Dome system intercepted them.
Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for that attack.
Areas near the Gaza Strip, including the Sha’ar Hanegev and Eshkol regions, sustained consecutive rocket salvos, and two homes sustained direct strikes. No injuries were reported.
By press time, some 90 rockets had been fired into Israel on Wednesday, and around 30 were intercepted.
The IDF carried out attacks in Gaza throughout Wednesday, hitting at least 200 terrorist targets.
The IAF struck more than 80 targets in under 30 minutes on Wednesday evening.
Earlier, around 160 targets were struck overnight, and 550 targets have been hit since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge this week.
The air force attacked targets that included 10 tunnels and five Hamas government buildings, among them the Interior Ministry, the National Security Ministry and a naval police position.
The air force also hit 118 underground rocket launchers, including infrastructure designed for medium- and long-range rocket fire against Israel.
The attacks caused significant damage to the rocket-firing capabilities of terrorist organizations, the IDF said.
In air strikes on Wednesday, the IAF targeted dozens of Hamas infrastructure sites used by the organization’s senior commanders. The strikes targeted infrastructure used by Ahmed Andur, a senior Hamas member in northern Gaza, who is responsible for rocket fire on southern Israel in recent months as well as Tuesday’s failed attempt by Hamas naval commandos to land on Zikim Beach and murder civilians.
On Wednesday, the IDF raised its level of alert at Zikim after initially suspecting Hamas armed divers of trying to infiltrate Israel from the sea. The IDF then became less certain that an infiltration had occurred.
Searches continue throughout the night.
Andur also commanded a cell that carried out bombing and shooting attacks on IDF units, and spent six years in an Israeli prison in one term, and five years in a Palestinian prison in a second term. After being released, he took part in a shooting attack on a fuel truck on the Gaza border, in which one Israeli was killed and a second seriously wounded.
During the second intifada, he helped Hamas explosives engineer Adnan Alul in the Gaza Strip. He also took part in organizing a suicide bomb attack on the Erez crossing to the northern Gaza Strip in 2004, which killed four people, and a double suicide bombing at Ashdod Port in 2004, which killed 11.
Andur took part in a long line of additional attacks, including one that killed three soldiers, and a bombing attack on a tank in Dugit, a settlement in the northern Gaza Strip that was evacuated in the 2005 disengagement, killing four soldiers.
On Wednesday, the Israel Navy targeted a weapons storage facility and training camp, the home of a Hamas northern brigade commander, and a Hamas military site near a school.
The military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip to stop rocket fire on Israel will expand in the next few days, and Hamas will pay a “huge price,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said.
“We are continuing to carry out attacks that are exacting a heavy price from Hamas,” Ya’alon said as Operation Protective Edge entered its second day. “We are destroying [Hamas’] arms, terrorist infrastructure, command and control systems, institutions, government buildings, terrorists’ homes, and we are killing terrorists in the organizational high command.”
The IDF confirmed that an IAF strike targeted Hamas terrorist operative Abdullah Difallah while he was riding on a motorcycle in the northern Gaza Strip. Palestinian sources had earlier reported that Israeli aircraft struck a motorcycle killing one person and seriously wounding another. Difallah had been responsible for firing rockets into Israel, the army said.
According to Palestinian media, three other people were killed by IAF strikes on Wednesday morning, bringing the death toll since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge to at least 47, with more than a hundred wounded.
“This activity will continue and escalate,” the defense minister said. “From our standpoint, this is a campaign that will not end anytime soon, and we must continue to persevere and be patient. We will continue to hit Hamas and other terrorist organizations hard from the air, at sea, and on the ground in order to ensure the security of the citizens of Israel.”