An IAF helicopter in action. (Ofer Zidon/Flash90) (Ofer Zidon/Flash90)
Israel air force

Israeli communities surrounding the Gaza Strip were subjected to the worst bombardment by Palestinian terror groups since Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

Throughout Tuesday and early Wednesday morning, the Gaza-based Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups relentlessly fired more than 100 rockets and mortars at Israeli communities surrounding the Strip, one of which exploded in a kindergarten located in the Ein Hashlosha community.

“This attack was a severe, dangerous, and orchestrated act of terror, aimed at Israeli civilians and children,” the IDF stated.

The IDF revealed that some of projectiles launched throughout the Palestinian terror offensive were Iranian-made rockets.

“The Palestinian Islamic Jihad follows the ideology of Iran, is funded by Iran, and in today’s attack, used munitions made by Iran,” the IDF said.

While the majority of the explosive projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system or exploded in open spaces, some fell inside Israeli communities and seven Israelis, including three soldiers, were injured in the shelling. One soldier sustained moderate wounds and required intensive surgery.

Responding to the attacks, Israel Air Force (IAF) fighter jets and attack helicopters overnight struck some 25 military targets belonging to Hamas, the most extensive airstrikes in four years.

The targets included storage structures of drones used for terror purposes, a rocket manufacturing workshop, advanced naval weaponry, military compounds, training facilities, and a munitions manufacturing site.

There were no reports of any Palestinian casualties in the strikes.

IDF Mounts Counterattack

These strikes were in addition to strikes the IAF carried out against military targets belonging to Hamas during the day. A total of 65 terror targets were hit in the past 24 hours.

As part of Tuesday’s strikes, a Hamas terror tunnel was bombed near the Kerem Shalom Crossing. The terror tunnel started in the Gaza Strip, crossed into Egypt, and extended into Israeli territory some 900 meters.

The tunnel was designated for terror purposes and weapons smuggling. It was detected in its construction phase near the Kerem Shalom Crossing, through which humanitarian aid is transferred to Gaza residents. This is the second tunnel detected near the Kerem Shalom Crossing and the tenth tunnel destroyed since October.

“Instead of using humanitarian aid to better the lives of Gazans, Hamas uses the crossing for terror purposes,” the IDF charged.

Hamas “is accountable for activity from the Gaza Strip, and therefore is responsible for the severe attacks that were carried out against Israeli civilians,” the IDF stated.

“The Hamas terror organization again chooses to act against the interest of the residents of the Gaza Strip. After it failed during the violent riots along the security fence, it now chooses to conduct and allow a wide-scale attack against Israeli civilians. The IDF views the terror activity carried out by the Hamas terror organization with great severity, and will continue to operate in a powerful and determined manner,” the IDF stated.

“The IDF is prepared for a variety of scenarios and is determined to act against terror operatives. The IDF will continue to carry out its mission to protect Israel’s civilians,” it added.

IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis warned of tougher action and said it was up to Hamas to stop the situation from escalating.

“These strikes will continue to intensify as long as necessary if this fire continues,” he told reporters outside Israeli military headquarters.

“Israel will exact a heavy price from those who seek to harm it, and we see Hamas as responsible for preventing such attacks,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

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