IDF troops arava AP 18811
IDF troops patrolling in the area of a series of terror attacks in southern Israel that left at least seven people dead, August 18, 2011. Photo by AP
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Emil Salman
Ehud Barak and Benny Gantz, July 2011. Photo by Emil Salman

Two people were critically wounded Thursday evening when gunfire erupted close to the site of a deadly series of terror attacks earlier in the day in which eight people had been killed.

The gunfire began during a press conference by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF chief Benny Gantz, at the scene of the attacks.

A short time before the renewed gunfire, IDF aircraft struck targets in the Gaza Strip, killing at least six people, including senior commander in the Popular Resistance Committees, Kamal Abu Abed al-Nairab.

Seven people were killed and dozens more were wounded in the apparently coordinated series of gun attacks and artillery strikes approximately 20 kilometers north of the southern city of Eilat, close to the border with Egypt.

The first attack, at around 12 P.M., was a drive-by shooting targeting Egged bus 392 traveling from Be'er Sheva to Eilat, near the Netafim junction.

Shortly afterward, IDF forces rushed to the scene and were faced with several explosive devices that were detonated alongside an IDF vehicle.

At approximately 12:35, a mortar was fired from Egypt to Israel. No casualties were reported.

At 1:10 P.M., a terrorist cell fired an anti-tank missile at a private vehicle, wounding seven.

Minutes later, another cell fired an anti-tank missile at a private vehicle, killing six.

The IDF Spokesman reported that two to four terrorists were killed during the clashes.

According to reports, the terrorists in the car opened fire at the Egged bus, which carried a significant number of soldiers leaving their bases for the weekend.

In the aftermath of the first attack, Israeli security forces launched a search for the vehicle thought to have transported the gunmen, setting up barricades in the area. A firefight erupted once the IDF troops caught up with the vehicle, in which several of the armed men were killed.

Two IDF helicopters were called to the scene in order to evacuate those wounded to Yoseftal hospital in Eilat and to Soroka hospital in Be'er Sheva.

Earlier tonight, the 'Iron Dome' system operated by IAF Air Defense Corps forces intercepted a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Thursday that Israel would respond to the attacks in an appropriate manner.