IDF Strikes Gaza After More Than 20 Rockets Hit Southern Israel

Palestinians report eight killed, some 20 wounded from IDF strikes; nine-month-old baby lightly wounded after rocket hits Ashkelon region on Wednesday night.

A renewed barrage of rockets hit Israel's south overnight Wednesday, prompting Israel Defense Forces planes to carry out strikes on the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, killing eight and wounding about 20, according to Palestinian reports.

IDF strike on Gaza - AP - August 25, 2011
AP

Click here for full Haaretz coverage on the escalation on Israel's southern border

Five grad rockets fell in open areas on Wednesday night, one near Ofakim, one south of Ashkelon and three in Be'er Sheva. Rockets also fell in the Eshkol Regional Council. A nine-month-old baby was lightly wounded after a rocket hit a private car in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.

Rocket fire continued late into Wednesday night, with two rockets also landing in Sderot.
In response to rocket attacks, Israel Air Force aircraft targeted a weapons storage facility in the northern Gaza Strip as well as a smuggling tunnel and weapons manufacturing site in the southern Gaza Strip overnight on Wednesday. The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement that "direct hits were confirmed."

Earlier Wednesday, IAF aircraft targeted two militants in separate locations on Wednesday in northern Gaza, who had launched projectiles at Israel shortly before, the IDF said in a statement.

The military branch of Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks later on Wednesday night, saying that they were a response to the killing of an Islamic Jihad operative, Ismael al-Asmar, early on Wednesday morning, according to a report by Israel Radio.

Palestinian sources reported on Wednesday evening that a member of the Islamic Jihad was killed by an IDF strike in Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in the Gaza Strip. Shortly afterwards a Grad rocket was launched toward Be'er Sheva and was intercepted by the Iron Dome system.