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Defense Minister Amir Peretz declared a "special situation" within Sderot and other Gaza-belt communities on Sunday as the IDF continued to hammer away at Hamas targets, killing three Palestinians in strikes on Gaza-based Kassam infrastructure.
Practically, Peretz's decision means that the IDF Home Front Command now has the authority to shut down factories and workplaces and to order specific vital facilities, such as medical clinics, to remain open. Last summer, during the Second Lebanon War, Peretz declared a similar state in northern Israel following the Hizbullah Katyusha rocket attacks.
Throughout the day, IDF troops operating on the ground in the northern Gaza Strip tried to deter Palestinian Kassam squads from reaching launch sites in the area. A tank fired a shell at one squad late Sunday, but Palestinian security officials said no one was hurt.
Earlier in the day, three people, including at least one Hamas operative, were killed in an airstrike on a car in Gaza City. According to the IDF, the car was carrying large amounts of weaponry. In another airstrike, a stereo and video store owner said his shop was apparently hit by mistake. The army said it had been targeting an Islamic Jihad arms workshop.
During a tour of the Gaza Division, Peretz explained that the new state of emergency would mandate closing factories that jeopardize the lives of civilians, as well as shutting down educational institutions in the area.
"We will not let Hamas dictate the way residents of the towns surrounding Gaza lead their lives," Peretz said. "Our response to the Hamas attacks is calculated... The terror groups did not expect such a quick and comprehensive response."