Gaza and Jerusalem
More than 60 rockets were launched from Gaza towards Israel on Wednesday, a day after Israeli military airstrikes killed three leaders of the Palestinian militant group and 10 other Palestinian men, women and children in Gaza and led to threats of retaliation.
Over half a million Israelis were in or near shelters, the chief spokesman of the Israel Defense Forces, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said just after 2 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) on Wednesday.
The rocket fire came after the Israel Defense Forces targeted what they called Islamic Jihad terrorist organization operatives and infrastructure in renewed strikes in Gaza on Wednesday.
The suspects on Wednesday were traveling to a rocket launch site in the city of Khan Younis, the IDF said. The Ministry of Health in Gaza said one person was killed in Wednesday’s attack. It named him as Muhammad Yusuf Saleh Abu Ta’ima, 25, and said he was killed in the bombing east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip.
A CNN producer in Gaza reported explosions in Khan Younis, Rafah and northern Gaza.
Shortly after, he saw at least six rockets fired from Gaza towards Israel. Sirens warning of incoming rockets sounded in the southern Israeli cities of Sderot and Ashkelon and the Lachish area, all near the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces said. Sirens later sounded in Tel Aviv, Israel’s main city on the Mediterranean coast, warning of potential incoming rocket fire.
Nine rockets fired at the city of Sderot were all intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system, the municipality of Sderot said Wednesday. The city said it had no reports of injuries or property damage.
The nearby city of Ashkelon also said it had no reports of injuries or damage.
One of the three Islamic Jihad commanders killed on Tuesday was working on capabilities to launch rockets from the West Bank toward Israel, IDF chief spokesman Hagari said at the time.
Rockets have never been fired from the West Bank into Israel.
Islamic Jihad confirmed three of its commanders were killed in the overnight operation along with their wives and children.
The commanders killed were Jihad Shaker Al-Ghannam, secretary of the Military Council in the al Quds Brigades; Khalil Salah al Bahtini, commander of the Northern Region in the al Quds Brigades; and Ezzedine, one of the leaders of the military wing of the al Quds Brigades in the West Bank, the group said.
Hagari said the operation had been planned since last Tuesday, when Islamic Jihad fired more than 100 rockets toward Israel following the death of its former spokesman while on hunger strike in an Israeli prison.
But, the IDF did not have the “operational conditions” until overnight Tuesday.
The IDF launched a further strike on Tuesday, saying its air force targeted “a terrorist squad” belonging to Islamic Jihad in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian ministry of health in Gaza said two people were killed and two others injured in that attack east of Khan Younis, although they have yet to identify them, bringing the death toll in Gaza to 15 on Tuesday.