In under 24 hours, Palestinian terrorist rocket crews in the Gaza Strip pummeled scores of Israeli communities near the coastal enclave, wounding several civilians, a soldier, and damaging homes and businesses.
In Sderot, one rocket scored a direct hit on a day care center located in an apartment building, but luckily, hitting the outside wall of the heavily reinforced safety room.
Children were to have entered the building for a summer camp session a short time after the rocket slammed into the building.
Close to 50 Kassam rockets and mortars, rained down since before dawn, and the Israeli army said in an update that, “since 8:20 pm alone, at least 13 rockets hit the region that extends around the Gaza Strip. Since midnight, more than 40 rockets were launched from Gaza at Israel.”
A home video caught on camera what it’s like to be under such incessant fire (strong language alert):
Thirty four of the projectiles hit southern Israel, with two intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system, and the remainder falling short within Palestinian controlled territories, according to the army.
“Four of the rockets landed in urban areas, causing damage to civilian infrastructure and houses,” the Israel Defense Forces Spokesman said, “and an IDF soldier was lightly injured by shrapnel after a projectile landed in the Eshkol Regional Council.”
Two of the rockets sparked off brush fires, that were later brought under control by fire crews.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was preparing for two alternate scenarios in the south, in remarks at the U.S. Embassy’s Fourth of July celebration in Herzliya on Thursday night.
“The first is that the firing at our communities will stop and then our operations will stop as well and the quiet that prevailed in the south after Operation Pillar of Defense will continue,” he said.
“The second possibility is that the firing at our communities in the south will continue and then the reinforcement forces that are located in the field will act forcefully. The security of our citizens comes first,” Netanyahu cautioned.
The prime minister lauded the fortitude of the population undergoing the rocket salvos.
“On behalf of the citizens of Israel, I would like to praise the residents of the south. The strength you are demonstrating allows us to act determinedly and responsibly towards one goal – your security, all our security,” he said, according to a statement released by his office.
Hamas’ military wing, Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades spokesmen on Thursday night threatened to up the ante, if Israel opted to increase its air and possibly ground responses to the steel rain.
“Any foolish move the Israeli leadership makes will put Israeli towns in the range of our rockets. We will strike new targets,” a Brigades spokesman said.
“We have a bank of targets that Israel expects we’ll hit, and other targets Israel doesn’t expect us to hit,” he added.
Unconfirmed reports from Palestinian media said that Netanyahu gave Hamas a 48-hour ultimatum to end the rocket barrages, via Egyptian interlocutors.