IAF strikes in Gaza 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)
The IDF struck some 150 medium-range rocket launching pads in the Gaza Strip overnight Thursday as well as a number of weapons depots belonging to terror organizations in the coastal territory, as Operation Pillar of Defense entered its third day.
After more than 300 rockets were fired into Israel since Operation Pillar of Defense began with the IDF's targeted killing of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari on Wednesday, only a small number of rockets landed in Israel overnight Thursday, mainly in open areas.
The barrage of rocket fire renewed on Friday morning with rockets hitting residential areas in the Ashdod and Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council areas, causing some damage to property and leaving several people suffering shock. Red alert warning sirens began sounding off in communities across the South just after 7a.m. on Friday morning, including in Beersheba, Ofakim and Sderot.
The IDF stated Friday morning that it has struck more than 500 terror targets in Gaza since the operation to root out terror infrastructure in the coastal territory was initiated.
In addition to limiting Gaza terrorists' ability to fire rockets into Israel by striking key targets in the territory, the IDF stated that the Iron Dome rocket defense system has intercepted some 130 rockets since the operation began.
According to the IDF Spokesman's Office, the "wave of planned, massive, and exact attacks" on underground rocket launching sites was continuing on Friday morning.
Among the major targets struck in Gaza overnight Thursday was a structure belonging to Hamas's Interior Ministry. The IDF also struck the home of Hamas commander in Kahn Yunis, Muhammad Sinwar, who was involved in the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, Israel Radio reported.
Palestinians reported that three people were killed when the IAF struck a vehicle in northern Gaza overnight Thursday, bringing the Palestinian death toll in Operation Pillar of Defense to 19.
On Thursday night, The IDF shifted infantry brigades and tank columns to the Gaza border, and announced the call-up of 30,000 reservists, as it made preparations for a possible ground incursion into the Gaza Strip.
The developments came after a rocket hit a home in Kiryat Malachi on Thursday killing three Israelis. On Thursday evening an air raid siren rang out in the Tel Aviv area for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War. Two rockets fell in open territories south of the city.
A high-level Egyptian delegation is expected to arrive in the Gaza Strip on Friday for talks with Hamas leaders on ways of ending the current round of fighting with Israel, a Hamas spokesman said on Thursday.
Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil will head the delegation, which will consist of a number of cabinet ministers, annonced Taher a-Nunu, spokesman for the Hamas government.
This would be the first visit to the Gaza Strip by an Egyptian prime minister.
Israel Radio reported Friday that Israel agreed to cease strikes on Gaza during the Egyptian visit, under the condition that rocket fire from the territory ceased as well during that time.