The Israel Air Force attacked six locations in overnight strikes on the Gaza Strip, killing two Islamic Jihad militants and wounding 38 Palestinians, including several children.

The strike, which killed 24-year-old Islamic Jihad leader Hamdan Abu-Mutlak, came in response to the firing of four Grad rockets launched overnight at southern Israel. Two of the rockets were taken down by the Iron Dome system, while one rocket hit a school in the Eshkol Regional Council, causing damage to several buildings and a vehicle.

Another rocket exploded near a preschool in the Eshkol Regional Council on Monday morning. No injuries were reported.

The IAF also killed another Palestinian militant who was launching a rocket toward Israel, as well as a weapons storage site and five rocket-launching sites.

The Home Front Command decided to once more cancel classes in most of the towns near Gaza

On Sunday, residents of southern Israel suffered day under siege as Palestinians in the Gaza fired about 50 more rockets at the Negev.

Two Grad-type Katyusha rockets fell in Be'er Sheva after the Iron Dome battery that had been protecting it suffered a technical malfunction.

One rocket hit a school, which was empty since schools in the city were closed Sunday, and the other hit a parked car. Fifteen people were treated for shock, though there were no other casualties. The rockets ¬ and the ball bearings that they ejected hundreds of meters ¬ caused heavy damage to buildings and vehicles. Another rocket hit a chicken coop in Moshav Carmia in the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council, causing heavy damage.

In Gaza, medics reported that Israeli air strikes killed three Palestinians, including a 12-year-old boy. A total of 18 Palestinians were killed in IAF strikes since Friday.

Since Friday, 104 rockets were fired toward Israel, 43 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense systems. The IAF carried out 23 strikes in the Gaza Strip.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned on Sunday that "the current escalation is liable to be lengthy." He said that he plans to have the Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system declared a "national emergency project," so as to expedite the manufacture and deployment of additional batteries. A fourth Iron Dome battery is being prepared for deployment and is expected to be operational within weeks.

Some 200,000 pupils will remain at home again on Monday, as schools remain closed in Be'er Sheva, Ofakim, Ashdod, Yavneh, Ashkelon, Kiryat Malakhi and Netivot, and in all the other smaller communities that are between seven and 40 kilometers from the Gaza Strip.

Earlier on Sunday, security officials said the Iron Dome systems performed extraordinarily over the weekend. The systems use a missile called "Tamir" to intercept incoming rockets, and each missile is priced at approximately NIS 200,000.

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