IAF levels Hamas security HQ after Beersheba hit

Tensions running high after 24 hours of rocket fire

A Palestinian boy is seen on the remains of a building after it was bombed by an Israeli aircraft, in Gaza City August 9, 2018 (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)
A Palestinian boy is seen on the remains of a building after it was bombed by an Israeli aircraft, in Gaza City August 9, 2018
The Israel Air Force struck multiple targets in the Gaza Strip on Thursday evening, after a rocket landed outside Beersheba for the first time since Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
Close to 200 mortars and rockets were launched toward southern communities since Wednesday evening, leaving 28 injured.
Shortly after the air strike on Thursday evening leveled a five-story building in the Al-Shati Camp in western Gaza City, more rocket sirens wailed in the Eshkol Region. The targeted building had been the headquarters for Hamas’s interior security operations, considered an exec- utive branch of Hamas’s political leader - ship. Many of its members are military operatives, according to the IDF. The air strike was in retaliation for the Beersheba bombing, “as expression of the IDF’s intelligence and operational capabil- ities, which will expand and intensify as necessary,” the military said.
The sole long-range rocket which flew some 40 km. from the Gaza Strip landed in an open area outside Beersheba shortly after 3 p.m. No damage was incurred, but it heralded an escalation in violence from the coastal enclave. Until now, Gaza’s fire had been directed at bordering communities.
Beersheba Mayor Ruvik Danilovich emphasized Israel must act more aggressively after the Grad rocket landed by his city.
“No country would let the security of its citizens be harmed,” Danilovich told Israel’s Kan Radio. “It is legitimate for the country to conduct negotiations, but there must be red lines. It is likely that we’ll need to take more drastic and aggressive action.”
Head of the Southern Com - mand Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi visited Sderot where four projec - tiles smashed into two homes, a factory and several cars on Wednesday evening. “We are prepared for any scenario and we will continue to do everything necessary to maintain and strengthen the sense of security of the local res - idents,” Halevi said. ”I am sure the residents of the Gaza border communities are strong, and we call on them to continue to listen to the instructions of the Home Front Command.”
Authorities from the Eshkol Regional Council warned residents on Thursday evening to remain near sheltered areas as the IDF poised to strike Gaza.
“IDF activity in the [Gaza] Strip is set to continue in the coming hours,” said a munici - pality statement. “We remind [residents] of our instruction to remain close to sheltered areas.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, has held several security assess - ments with senior military officials at the IDF Kirya base in Tel Aviv since the first rocket barrage began on Wednesday evening.
Six people have been treated for wounds and nine people were treated for shock, accord - ing to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. A 34-year-old was in light-to-moderate condition with wounds from glass shards, and a 20-year-old was in light condition with wounds from Iron Dome shrapnel. Civilians treated at the scene suffered from stress, and two pregnant women started having contractions.
Since the onslaught began Wednesday evening, the IAF has struck more than 100 terror targets, including a tunnel man - ufacturing plant, and a tunnel intended for warfare along the coast.
A number of terror targets in several military sites, including weapons and rockets, as well as a military compound that serves as a central logistic ware - house were also hit by IAF jets.
“The Hamas terrorist organization continues to carry out acts of terror against Israeli citi - zens and the defense infrastruc - tures that protect them, violates Israeli sovereignty and endan - gers the citizens of Israel and the security forces,” the IDF said in a statement.
The air force struck a vehi - cle in the northern Gaza Strip, which allegedly was used to launch rockets. One Hamas operative killed was identified as Ali al-Ghandour, a relative of senior Hamas commander Abu Anas al-Ghandour who has been designated by the US State Department as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.
A pregnant Palestinian woman and her toddler were killed in the IAF’s Wednesday retaliatory strikes, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
“We are delivering on our promise,” Hamas said in a statement. “The resistance accepted the responsibility to even the playing field with the enemy and it is succeeding in doing so.”
Rocket fire from Gaza began shortly after an IDF tank struck Hamas posts. The exchange started when shots were fired toward civilian engineering vehicles working on the IDF’s underground barrier.
The IDF closed Route 25 and several smaller roads on Wednesday near the Gaza bor - der, citing concern about a retaliatory attack from Hamas. Two elite Hamas members had been killed by the IDF on Tuesday.