Iron Dome - AFP - 12.3.2012
An Iron Dome missile being launched on Monday, March 12, 2012. Photo by AFP
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Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired more than 40 rockets at Israel on Monday, as the heavy cross-border barrage continued into its fourth day. Two of the rockets fired Monday exploded near Gedera, just 40 kilometers south of Tel Aviv, and another struck inside the southern city of Ashdod.

A woman and one other person sustained light to moderate shrapnel wounds as a result of a grad rocket striking Ashdod. The woman was evacuated to Rehovot's Kaplan Hospital. Four Israelis were also treated for shock. Damage was caused to store buildings and cars in the city.

Most of the rockets fired Monday exploded in open areas or were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

One rocket exploded in the Eshkol Regional Council, and caused minor damage to a building. On Monday afternoon, the IDF Spokesperson announced that 37 rockets had exploded in Israeli territory over the course of the day, with three Iron Dome interceptions since the morning.

Later on Monday, another rocket was fired towards the Ashdod area, and a rocket exploded in the Ofakim area. No damage or injuries were reported.

On Monday evening, three rockets were fired toward Ashkelon, two of them were intercepted by Iron Dome, and one landed in an open field. Overall on Monday, 47 rockets exploded in Israeli territory, and 11 were intercepted by the Iron Dome system.

The Israel Air Force struck nine sites in the Gaza Strip, out of which were interceptions of high-trajectory missiles, and six weapons-manufacturing facilities.

It was announced that all schools with classes canceled on Monday, would continue to be canceled on Tuesday.

On Monday, a military source said that the current unrest represents a dramatic increase in threats from Gaza rockets compared to the escalations on the Israel – Gaza border in October and August last year.

"In three days we have passed the extent of the rockets in comparison with the escalations we had in the past, that carried on for a longer period," the official said.

In the last two days, the IDF has focused on attacking rocket launchers, and there has been an increase in the number of strikes the IDF is carrying out in order to damage the rocket launchers.

The Security and Foreign Afairs Committee called on the defense minister on Monday to declare a "special situation" in southern Israel. Currently the Southern Command is treating the events in the south under the definition "day off."

On Sunday, a total of 23 missiles were fired at Israel from Gaza, following the 47 fired on on Saturday 47.

Overnight Sunday, the IDF carried out a strike in Gaza that killed two Islamic Jihad militants and one 15-year-old Palestinian, and wounded 38 others. Later Monday, the IAF carried out another strike in Gaza, which killed two more Palestinians – a 65-year-old man and his 30-year-old daughter.

The strike was aimed at a cell that was firing rockets that hit north of Gadera on Monday afternoon, the IDF said. After the rockets were launched, two people were seen arriving at the site of the launch. IAF aircraft fired towards them, the IDF said. 

In a statement, the IDF spokesperson said that as a result of the fire it looks like citizens who were not involved in the combat were harmed.

"This case demonstrates the terrorist organizations' use of civilians as human shields, and the fact that they open fire deep inside civilian populations," the IDF spokesperson said.

In a separate strike, the IAF killed another Palestinian militant who was launching a rocket toward Israel. The IAF also reported targeting a weapons storage site and five rocket-launching sites in the Gaza Strip.

The Home Front Command decided to cancel classes in most of the Israeli  towns near Gaza on Monday, for a second day.

Two Grad-type Katyusha rockets struck Be'er Sheva on Sunday, after the Iron Dome battery that had been protecting it suffered a technical malfunction. One rocket hit an empty school,  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.

Since the beginning of the escalation on Friday, 158 rockets have exploded on Israeli territory, and 56 have been intercepted by the Iron Dome system.

The IAF struck 44 sites since the escalation began on Friday, out of which, 18 were high-trajectory missiles and 15 were weapons-manufacturing and storage facilities.

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