IDF strikes Gaza as long-range Grad rockets hit Be'er Sheva
Numerous strikes come after Gaza militants fire 2 Grad rockets at Be'er Sheva, marking the first time city was hit since the Gaza war in 2009.
Palestinian sources reported that the Israel Air Force retaliated late Wednesday with an airstrike in eastern Gaza City, wounding three Islamic Jihad militants. The IDF confirmed the airstrike.
Two Grad rockets were reportedly fired at Be'er Sheva on Wednesday evening, but so far only one missile is known to have landed in the city, which hit a building in a residential area of the city, causing damage, marking the first time Be'er Sheva was hit since the Gaza war in 2009.
The IDF reportedly carried out additional retaliation later Wednesday night, launching airstrikes in multiple other locations along the Gaza Strip against militants.
According to an IDF spokesman, the extensive overnight strike was part of the army's aim to "determinately and forcefully against those who attempt to harm Israeli citizens."
During Operation Cast Lead in 2009, several rockets were fired at Be'er Sheva and two people were seriously wounded, including a seven-year-old boy.
Earlier on Wednesday, IDF forces fired at a group of Gaza militants and wounded 11 people.
Palestinian news agencies reported that three children were among the injured; the other eight were members of the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad.
Gaza emergency services chief Adham Abu Selmeya said that the injured suffered shrapnel wounds. One was in a critical condition while two were in serious condition.
The IDF responded by saying that an explosive device was detonated toward soldiers who were performing routine activity in the area, on the northern part of the border.
"Shortly afterwards, a mortar shell was fired at the force and five additional mortar shells were fired into Israeli territory, landing in the Sdot Negev Regional Council," the IDF statement read. "Subsequently, the force identified a number of militants in the same area and returned fire in their direction. A direct hit was confirmed."
The al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad (Holy War) movement, said in a statement that a group of its members was targeted.
Abu Selmeya added that earlier Wednesday two workers collecting gravel near the border between northern Gaza and Israel were shot and injured by Israeli soldiers.
The IDF noted that in the past two months, "over 12 devices were laid along the security fence and exploded at IDF forces."
They added that two explosive devices were found on the border as recently as Tuesday.
"The terrorist organizations are constantly operating against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers," the IDF stated, adding that they held "the Hamas terrorist organization solely responsible for maintaining the calm in the Gaza Strip and for any terrorist activity emanating from it."