25 Qassams fired at Israel after deadly IDF Gaza raid
19 killed in Gaza raids, most of them militants; 4 hurt in Sderot; Hamas sniper kills Ecuadorian kibbutz volunteer near Gaza.
Parts of southern Israel were subjected to a barrage of 25 Qassam rockets and dozens of mortars Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces said, in the wake of IDF raids in Gaza that killed 19 Palestinians. Of the dead, 15 were confirmed as armed militants.
Three militant Palestinian factions, including a group allied to Hamas, claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. Hamas claimed responsibility for 17 of the mortars.
In the months leading up to Tuesday's raids in Gaza, the Islamic militant group hadn't taken the lead on the assaults, but had allowed other militant factions to attack southern Israel with impunity.
Four residents of Sderot were lightly wounded after at least four Qassam rockets struck the western Negev town, causing a power outage in some neighborhoods.
Also Tuesday, an Ecuadorian volunteer working in the fields of a kibbutz near Gaza was shot dead by a sniper from Hamas' armed wing.
In Sderot, a five-year-old girl was among those wounded when the house she was in sustained a direct hit from one of the rockets. The child had been treated by a psychologist in the past for anxiety due to the Qassam attacks on Sderot, and her father vowed his family would leave the western Negev town for good.
Another rocket damaged several other homes and hit a power line, plunging parts of the town into darkness.
Earlier, a Grad-type Katyusha struck an open field in southern Ashkelon. No injuries or damages were reported.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rocket fire on Ashkelon, a city of 120,000 people about 16 kilometers (10 miles) from Gaza. Most rockets land just a few kilometers from the Gaza border.
Carlos Chavez killed while working in kibbutz potato field
Ecuadorian volunteer Carlos Chavez, 21, was killed when a Palestinian sniper fired from the border area into Israel.
Chavez had been working in a potato field near the kibbutz border fence, Ein Hashlosha's security chief said. He was hit in the back and taken by his friends to the kibbutz infirmary.
A Magen David Adom ambulance arrived on the scene shortly after, but paramedics were unable to resuscitate him.
The shots were fired in the direction of IDF engineering corps operating in the area.
Yochai Kopler, a potato grower who worked with Chavez, said "sniper and mortar fire opened up. We didn't have luck this time, as we did the other times. Every day they shoot at us, and we run away like rabbits."
"It's tough for us to receive news like this," said Annie Rotman, who is responsible for the kibbutz's volunteers.
She said that Chavez came to the kibbutz two months ago. "Only yesterday, we spoke with him, laughed with him."
"Everyone here is afraid," she said. "The volunteers do the work, and when there is shooting, they go into hysteria. We are finding it difficult to digest what has happened."
David Lanos, 19, also a volunteer on the kibbutz, said the sniper fire came as they were preparing to plant potato seeds. "I told him, 'Sit down, they're shooting at us.' We managed to hide behind a car. When he stood up to get into it, he was hit in the back."
Lanos then told Chavez not to go to sleep. "He answered 'I'm not able,' and then I lost him."
An IDF spokesman said Chavez's showed the need for continued military operations in Gaza.
"The shooting of the Ecuadorian youth demonstrates the necessity of the defensive measures the military is carrying out with pinpoint operations," IDF spokeswoman Major Avital Leibovich said.
One of of the fatalities in the IDF operations on Tuesday was the son of Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, the last surviving founder of the Islamist group.