Three people were killed and some 40 others were wounded in Haifa on Sunday evening in what was described as the heaviest rocket strike on Israel's third largest city since the attacks began on July 12. Some 22 rockets fell during the volley.
The strikes came several hours after 12 Israel Defense Forces reserve soldiers were killed and 12 others were wounded, four of them seriously, in a direct hit on an open area in the northern community of Kfar Giladi.
Since the fighting began on July 12, 94 Israelis - 58 IDF soldiers and 36 civilians - have been killed.
In Haifa, five people were pulled from the rubble after a building collapsed in a strike on a residential neighborhood. One of those rescued was seriously hurt, and the rest sustained moderate injuries.
A police commander told Israel Radio that a rocket slammed into two adjacent houses, causing them to partially collapse.
One rocket fell between two buildings in a residential area on Mount Carmel, near the landmark Bahai Temple and several major tourist hotels, wounding six people and knocking down electrical lines. Glass littered the road, and a score of cars were damaged.
"Hundreds of people started running in all directions when they heard the siren. No one knew where to run because there were no shelters," said a local resident.
"After the explosion we saw an elderly man who had been seriously hurt and we tried to help him. One of the neighbors was also laying there seriously hurt, and needed oxygen, but there wasn't any because it took a long time for the ambulances to arrive."
"The rocket set fire to one of my balconies," said another local. "I went downstairs, and it was just catastrophic. You didn't know what to do."
The head of the Magen David Adom rescue service said that people were wounded in at least three locations in Haifa.
A spokesman for the Haifa fire department, Chezi Levi, said one crowded residential district suffered five or six hits.
"I heard a huge boom and all the windows in my apartment were shattered. It's the first time it happened in this area of the city but I knew anything is possible," said Yossef Yikutieli, 78, who lives across the street from the worst hit buildings.
"What we saw in Haifa tonight explains the essence of Israel's battle against Hezbollah, which continues to hide behind Lebanese civilians," David Baker, an official in the Prime Minister's Office told Haaretz on Sunday night. "Israel is determined to bring this Hezbollah terror to an end."
Earlier Sunday evening, a rocket landed in Haifa, and seven more fell in open fields in its outlying suburbs. There were no reports of injuries in any of the incidents. Another rocket landed in the Jezreel Valley. Sirens also sounded in Binyamina and Hadera, but there were no rocket strikes reported.
Hezbollah continued shelling the Kfar Giladi area for a prolonged period after the deadly attack, but there were no additional casualties.
A resident of Kfar Giladi who is on the community's security committee said that the victims did not adhere to warnings sounded ahead of the attack.
"This shouldn't have happened," he said. "We sounded the alert several minutes before the rocket hits."
"It was a direct hit on a crowd of people," Northern District Police Chief Major General Dan Ronen told Army Radio.
A reservist officer who was there at the time of the strike said that, "the soldiers who were hit were lying in a shaded area at the entrance to Kfar Giladi cemetery. They were lying on mattresses and resting.
"We had already been there a week and there had been a siren almost every hour, and it had already started to become routine. We joked among ourselves that wherever we were was a safer place to be than Kiryat Shmona. In any case, for soldiers in the field, there is no hiding place."
A nearby forest burst into flames from the barrage and huge plumes of gray smoke rose into the air.
Witnesses described the barrage of rockets as "enormous" and that it lasted more than fifteen minutes.
"I was sitting with my friends in a parking lot and got up to get a cigarette," an eye-witness told Haaretz, "I heard a big boom and came back running to see the bodies of my friends."
In a later barrage, a Kiryat Shmona home sustained a direct hit, Channel 10 reported. There was no immediate report of casualties.
Rockets that landed in the Beit Hillel community in the Upper Galilee left one person lightly wounded.
In earlier attacks Sunday, three Katyusha rockets landed in an open area near Ma'alot, two in Safed, two in open areas near Acre and one landed in the Golan Heights. No casualties were reported in these attacks.
Mother, two daughters killed in Saturday attacksOn Saturday, a woman and her two daughters were killed when their home suffered a direct hit in a Katyusha rocket strike on the Bedouin village of Arab al-Aramshe, in the Western Galilee near the northern border.
The fatalities were identified as Fadiya Juma'a, 60, and her daughters Sultana, 31, and Samira, 33. They will be laid to rest at their village's cemetery at 4.00 P.M.
Hezbollah fired 170 Katyusha rockets across northern Israel on Saturday afternoon, 130 of which landed between 4 P.M. and 5 P.M.
An Israel Defense Forces soldier sustained serious wounds when a rocket hit an army base near the northern border.
Some 40 rockets landed in Kiryat Shmona, one of which hit a factory. Some 17 rockets landed around Safed, four hit in the vicinity of Carmiel, 15 landed near Nahariya, 14 hit the Golan Heights, 19 landed in Ma'alot, four landed in Acre and one landed in Rosh Pina.
The village of Maghar, Tiberias, Ma'alot, Shlomi, and Rosh Hanikra were also hit in Saturday's barrage. Some of the rockets hit homes and damaged infrastructure.
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