Israeli soldiers ride atop armoured personnel carriers near the border with the Gaza Strip August 20.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee authorized the government’s request to call up another 10,000 reservists on Sunday.
In addition, the committee extended the “special situation on the home front” until September 2 and called for the Finance Ministry to finalize by that date the amount of compensation for damages – direct and indirect – that residents of the South will receive.
The Israel Air Force struck more than 50 targets in Gaza throughout the day, including a senior Hamas operative responsible for transferring funds.
The targeted figure, Muhammad al-Aoul, was hit in northern Gaza while in a vehicle; his condition was not immediately known. Army sources described him as a key figure in Hamas’s finances division.
Meanwhile, Hamas continued to rain down mortar shells on communities bordering Gaza, injuring three Israelis at the Erez crossing.
Mortar shells made up the overwhelming majority of the projectiles fired into Israel out of Gaza on Sunday, accounting for at least 80 out of 117 attacks, according to the IDF Spokesman’s Office.
The IDF said there were 108 impacts found in Israel, and nine rockets were shot down by the Iron Dome.
Between Saturday night and Sunday morning, the IDF hit three multi-story buildings in Gaza housing major Hamas targets.
Early on Sunday, two Islamic Jihad operatives were targeted in an air strike in Gaza. Two terrorists were hit soon afterward in an air strike. On Sunday afternoon, two members of a rocket-launching crew were struck in northern Gaza after firing at Sderot. Targets included underground rocket launchers, rocket production and storage sites and training camps.
Like in recent days, Palestinian fire toward Israel was mainly concentrated around border areas near Gaza, such as the Eshkol region and the Hof Ashkelon council. Nonetheless, there was also heavy fire on areas further north such as Ashkelon and Ashdod.
Around midday a rocket was fired at the Gush Dan region and exploded in an open area. Residents of the Tel Aviv area reported hearing a loud explosion but no rocket siren before the blast. In the evening, two rockets fired in the direction of Jerusalem were intercepted.
A senior air force officer said the majority of missions in recent days have focused on striking Hamas leaders and mitigating mortar attacks on southern Israel.
The source said pilots, air defense units, ground and maintenance crews have been working “for 49 days nonstop. They are planning, carrying out command and control, intelligence collection and maintenance [of the aircraft].”
The IAF has been pursuing senior Hamas leaders, and the source said “the net will close in on more and more Hamas figures if combat continues.”
Referring to Hamas’s large-scale mortar attack on villages bordering Gaza over recent days, the source said the IAF is working with the IDF Gaza Division and Southern Command to decrease the fire and provide more advance siren alerts to local residents.
“Hamas is firing directly from medical centers, schools and densely populated neighborhoods,” the source said. “We are operating where we can without harming noncombatants. We have been targeting areas that fire mortars more aggressively over the past two days. This involves increased surveillance and attacks.”
Additionally, the IAF is working to install more sensors in the border region to enhance mortar alerts, adding that “every second can save a life.”
Hamas has fired shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles at the IAF, the source said, though defensive actions by pilots thwarted the attacks.
“We were surprised by the high quality” of the anti-aircraft missiles, the source said.
Hamas has some remaining drones in its arsenal, and the IAF is on high alert for a potential drone attack.
“Hamas is seeking an achievement and can surprise us,” the source said. “We are guarding the skies and dealing with this.”
On a daily basis, the IAF is bombing dozens of terrorist infrastructure, the source stated, adding that new targets were being added to the list in the course of combat.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.