An Iron Dome Battery in action. (AP/Tsafrir Abayov) (AP/Tsafrir Abayov)
Iron dome

Hamas terrorists fired over 180 rockets at Israel’s citizens in the south, eliciting a sharp response from the IDF.

By: United with Israel Staff

Israel’s citizens in the south experienced a terrifying night when Hamas terrorists fired over 180 rockets overnight Wednesday/Thursday, repeatedly setting off Red Code alerts that sent them running for cover.

The Iron Dome defense system intercepted 30 rockets. Several explosive projectiles fell inside Israeli towns, causing injuries – some serious – and extensive damage.

In the Eshkol region, a 30-year-old woman was seriously injured when a rocket hit a greenhouse where she was working. Prof. Yochanan Pfizer, deputy director of Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, told IDF Radio that her life was in danger. Another person was moderately injured.

In one attack, Hamas fired rockets at a playground in Sderot, which is home to 25,000 people.

“They’re innocent mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. The Hamas terrorist organization looks at Sderot from the Gaza Strip and sees 25,000 targets,” the IDF stated.

For the first time in four years, Hamas fired rockets as far north as Ashkelon.

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) responded by attacking over 150 Hamas terror targets throughout the Strip, including a cement factory used to build terror tunnels, a maritime terror tunnel shaft, a weapons manufacturing and storage facility, and several terror sites in military compounds.

Additionally, five training camps were targeted as well as a main warehouse and a meeting point used by the senior commanders of the Khan Yunis Brigade.

Hotel Commandeered for Terrorism

One of the targets hit by the IAF was a factory used to manufacture parts for terror tunnels. The building was initially intended to be used as a hotel but was overtaken by Hamas in 2012. The factory manufactures parts for terror tunnels under the guise of civilian infrastructure.

The IDF said that in 2012, during Operation Pillar of Defense, senior Hamas members used the building as shelter, believing the IDF would not target a civilian hotel construction site. In the same building, they continued to command rocket-launching units.

Months later, in 2013, Hamas took over the site entirely, blocked the entrance and began establishing a concrete factory under the guise of a civilian construction site. The factory manufactured concrete parts designed exclusively for terror tunnels, including reinforcements, flooring and concrete arches, which have no civilian use.

From there, Hamas operated engineering vehicles and loaded the parts clandestinely onto trucks covered with tarp, to be delivered to digging sites across the Gaza Strip. The factory stopped producing concrete during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, but continued serving Hamas’ war efforts – rocket launchers were placed in its vicinity and Hamas operatives remained inside during the fighting.

The launch sites were dug adjacent to the structure, again since the terrorists believed it would not be an IDF target due to its civilian appearance. After four rockets were launched at Israel from the site, the factory resumed its regular activity and has continued to be a source of concrete parts for Hamas’ terror tunnels. The open areas around the factory were also considered a “closed military zone” and Hamas used them to practice short- and medium-range rocket launching and briefly operated a tunnel-digging workshop there.

No End in Sight

The strikes were “conducted in response to the rockets launched from Gaza at Israel throughout the night,” the IDF stated Thursday morning. “We are determined to secure the safety of Israelis, are on high alert and prepared for a variety of scenarios. Hamas is responsible and bears the consequences for the ongoing events.”

The IDF’s home front announced that events were canceled and camps were to be held only in secure and sheltered areas – this at the height of the summer vacation season.

While previous similar incidents ended within hours, this latest onslaught by Hamas appears to be more severe.

A senior IDF officer told Ha’aretz that Israel is on the verge of a major military operation in Gaza.

“The end of another night of escalation is not in sight,” the unnamed officer said. “Hamas chose to step away from the [ceasefire] arrangement and now it will pay the price for its violations over the past four months. Hamas is about to be dealt a major blow for its decision.”

The officer did not rule out the possibility that a number of communities in the south – some 30,000 people – would be evacuated up to four kilometers from the border.

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