IDF initiates limited deployment of forces toward Gaza amid increased rocket fire

Total of 18 rockets hit Israel since midnight; building hit in Sderot used as a nursery for infants; IDF source: Quiet will be answered with quiet.

The IDF has initiated a limited deployment of forces toward the Gazan border.

The move came amid an uptick of rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel's southern communities.Civilians have seen buses with soldiers and military vehicles making their way down South. Despite the limited deployment, a senior military source maintained that "quiet will be answered with quiet."An IDF spokesman stated that, "Our policy regarding Gaza is one of deescalation and preparedness. The IDF is operating to safeguard the southern communities of Israel."Following a night of rocket attacks on Israel and IAF strikes on Gaza in response, rockets continued to be lobbed at Israeli towns Thursday morning.A total of 18 rockets have landed in the southern Israel since midnight, including two direct hits on residential buildings in Sderot. There were no injuries, but damage to the properties was reported.One of the buildings was used as a nursery for infants, police said.Two of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-rocket system. The other rockets exploded in open areas.The Israeli Air Force attacked 15 terror sites in Gaza early on Thursday morning, following a barrage of rocket attacks on Israel throughout Wednesday.Gazan terrorists fired rockets and shells at southern Israel throughout Wednesday, with at least 17 projectiles launched.
The Iron Dome
anti-rocket defense battery intercepted two rockets in the evening – one over Ashkelon and another over Netivot.Throughout the day, southern communities came under mortar attack; Eshkol region was struck nine times. After a mortar attack in the evening, the Israel Air Force hit a mortar-launching cell in southern Gaza, destroying the launcher, the IDF said.Despite the strike, four more rockets exploded in the Sdot Negev region, and another three slammed into Eshkol.On Tuesday evening, five mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip toward southern Israel with two landing in the Eshkol Regional Council.
The Tuesday attack came as the funeral was underway in Modi'in for the three slain Israeli teenagers.Early on Tuesday morning, the Israeli Air Force jets struck 34 targets in the Gaza Strip in response to a barrage of rockets that pounded Israel's South on Monday.Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said rocket fire from Gaza is terrorism that has no legitimacy."There is no doubt that Israel must defend the residents of the south," she stated. "However, the proposals from cabinet ministers to conquer Gaza and use collective punishment will only cause escalation and deterioration."Gal-On called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to show restraint and not give in to "extremists and populists who demand punishment without distinction."Conversely, Knesset Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) said "Hamas does not stop at redlines and thinks that children are a legitimate target."Therefore, the Israeli government must give a green light to the IDF and security forces to bring back quiet by all means necessary, even if they are not sterile," he added. "Hamas is responsible for what happens in Gaza and therefore it will bear the painful consequences."Lahav Harkov and Ben Hartman contributed to this report.