TEL AVIV – The fourth consecutive day of violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in the coastal enclave of Gaza saw the number of rockets landing in southern Israel climb to more than 190 and the death toll of Palestinians – most of them militants – to 23.
At least 40 rockets landed in Israel today, the Israeli Defense Forces said, the closest landing around 25 miles from the country’s biggest city, Tel Aviv. Another hit the city of Ashdod, which has a population of 200,000.
An 80 year-old Israeli woman was reported wounded by shrapnel in Ashdod, there have been no Israeli deaths.
It is the worst violence between Israel and Gaza in over a year, which started when the Israeli Air Force targeted the leader of the Popular Resistance Committee, one of the militant groups operating in Gaza, accusing the group of planning on attack on Israel via Egypt.
The PRC and another group, Islamic Jihad, responded by firing missiles ranging from mortars up to Grad rockets.
Since Friday, the IDF has carried out airstrikes in response. Five Palestinians were killed today, including three civilians. The targets, the IDF said, have been militants, rocket-launching sites and a rocket storage facility. More than 45 people have been wounded in Gaza.
The IDF has touted the success of its missile-intercepting system, the Iron Dome, which they said intercepted more than 50 rockets heading for densely populated areas. It did malfunction on Sunday, allowing rockets to hit an empty school and a parked car, the newspaper Haaretz reported. Israel’s Home Front Command ordered schools across the south closed on Monday, the second day in a row.
Hamas, which controls Gaza, has not carried out any of the attacks, but Israel holds the group responsible for all militant activity. Hamas officials have gone to Egypt and asked them to mediate a ceasefire, but the militants say they will continue until the airstrikes stop.
“The Zionist state began this aggression. It has to stop its aggression first and then we will evaluate the situation and study the possibility of calm,” a spokesman wrote on Islamic Jihad’s website.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed today to keep up the strikes, promising to “hit anyone who plans to harm us.”