Rockets hit north of Ashdod after IDF tanks strike Gaza

No casualties as Grad explodes; Ya'alon: We will not tolerate any escalation, Hamas will pay the price; eight rockets launched since morning; IDF strikes multiple targets in Gaza.

gaza rocket 311 (photo credit: Eshkol Regional Council)
gaza rocket 311
(photo credit: Eshkol Regional Council)
Rockets landed in and  north of Ashdod on Thursday afternoon, and sirens were heard in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gedera and Gan Yavne. Another rocket landed in the Eshkol Regional Council, the eight rocket attack since Thursday morning.
IDF tanks shot into Gaza on Thursday, injuring one man, according to Palestinian sources, following five rockets launched from Gaza into Israel.
RELATED:9 Palestinians killed in IDF strikes on GazaHamas digging ‘terror tunnels’ along border with Israel
The strike came after the IAF struck four targets in Gaza Strip in the early morning,  after Palestinians fired about a dozen rockets and mortars across the border, striking deep into Israel.
The tanks were aimed at a Hamas facility in Gaza City, which reportedly burst into flames.
Earlier Thursday, the IAF bombed terrorists that were attempting to shoot rockets into Israel.
Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon said on Thursday that Israel "will not be tolerant of any escalation."
Speaking in the US, Ya'alon said that Israel will not tolerate "terrorist attacks or shooting rockets at our citizens."
He said that the war against terror "requires a long battle, but it will not stop us from taking care of whoever shoots at Israel, as they have in the last few days or sends terrorists to the center of cities."
"Whoever does this will not be immune to a decisive attack," Ya'alon said. "Hamas is responsible for everything that is shot out of Gaza and if it does not take responsibility, it will pay the price."
Since Thursday morning, three Kassam rockets, one Grad missile and a mortar shell were shot into Israel from Gaza. Grad missiles landed in and north of Ashdod. A previous report erroneously said that a rocket landed in the Rishon Lezion area.
Hamas said Israel targeted smuggling tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border, as well as one of its training camps in central Gaza.
A third strike hit a power transformer, causing blackouts in the area, witnesses said. Medical workers said no one was injured in the strikes.
The IDF confirmed that the IAF strikes were carried out in Gaza in response to earlier rocket attacks and that direct hits on multiple targets were recorded.
On Wednesday, Israel vowed to retaliate for rocket attacks against Beersheba and Ashkelon as Hamas evacuated most of its manned positions throughout the Gaza Strip in anticipation of IDF air strikes.
At 5:30 Wednesday morning the first Grad-model Katyusha rocket slammed into Beersheba for the first time in almost a month, lightly wounding one person.
Several hours later, another rocket hit the Negev city.
Yet another rocket landed south of Ashkelon on Wednesday, a day after a rocket fell near Ashdod.
Authorities announced that schools would be closed in Beersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon on Thursday as a result of the security situation.
Also Wednesday, seven mortar shells containing white phosphorous hit the Eshkol region, followed shortly after by three more near a kibbutz in the Sha’ar Hanegev region. The IAF later destroyed the launcher that was used to fire the rocket into Ashdod.
The Al-Quds Brigades of Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the missile fire, which came after Israel killed four terror operatives in a missile strike on Tuesday night. The four were behind the firing of two Katyusha rockets into Beersheba in late February, the IDF said.
Fearing a further escalation, the IDF Home Front Command ordered residents in Beersheba, Ashkelon and Ashdod to stay close to their homes and near bomb shelters, out of concern that additional rockets will be fired in the coming days from the Gaza Strip.
“The IDF will continue to act to protect Israeli citizens and will take preemptive action along the Gaza border,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said. “There will be highs and lows; not everything will end tomorrow, but we are determined to restore quiet and security to the South.”
Meanwhile, police in the South increased the number of officers and patrol cars on the streets, in response to the threat of further rockets and shells from Gaza.
On Wednesday, the IDF’s Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration coordinated the transfer of an 8-year-old Palestinian boy from the Gaza Strip to Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot after he was injured in an Israeli mortar attack on Tuesday.
The boy was injured after IDF troops fired mortar shells into an open field in northern Gaza and accidentally hit a number of civilians nearby, killing four members of a family and wounding several others, including the boy, who was transferred Wednesday to Israel for medical treatment.
Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.