Netanyahu Threatens Escalation as Gaza Rocket Toll Mounts

More than 80 rockets fired at Israel since Saturday, three people wounded; at least five Palestinians killed in Israeli strike on Gaza; four IDF soldiers wounded Saturday when anti-tank missile struck their jeep.

Yanir Yagna
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Yanir Yagna

The Israel Defense Forces will respond aggressively to any attacks carried out by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

"The world needs to understand that Israel will not sit with arms crossed when faced by attempts to hurt us," Netanyahu told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting, after more than 40 rockets struck Israel over the course of Sunday morning.  "We are prepared to intensify our response."

Three people were lightly wounded on Sunday, when rockets exploded in the city of Sderot and in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. A fourth person was treated for shock.

Several buildings in the Sha'ar Hanegev Council were damaged in the barrage. A factory in the industrial zone of Sderot sustained a direct hit.

The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted a rocket aimed at Be'er Sheva for the first time since the recent escalation began. The Iron Dome missile defense system on Saturday intercepted a rocket in the Ashdod area.

Close to 80 rockets and mortar bombs have struck Israeli communities in the Gaza envelope since Saturday. The Israel Defense Forces has responded to the attack with nine separate air strikes on the Gaza Strip, including one on Sunday morning. Five Palestinians were killed in the strikes.

Islamic Jihad, a smaller faction than Hamas which often operates independently, identified a casualty in the strike on Sunday as one of its own. The group said the dead man was a member of a rocket crew hit by an Israeli missile in Jabalya, northern Gaza Strip.

Schools in southern Israel's Eshkol and Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Councils, and in Sderot, were closed on Sunday. The Sapir College in Sderot, as well municipal businesses were closed, as well.

On Saturday, an anti-tank missile struck an IDF jeep near the border with Gaza, wounding four soldiers. The IDF responded to the jeep attack with shelling on the Gaza Strip in which at least four Palestinians were killed and over 36 wounded.

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A trail of smoke is seen as a rocket is launched from the Palestinian Gaza Strip towards the southern Israeli city of Sderot on November 11, 2012.Credit: AFP
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Mortar shell marks are seen on a wall as a person closes a broken window of his house in a community along the Israel Gaza border, Israel, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012.Credit: AP
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A Palestinian boy holds a child's bicycle he removed from the rubble of a destroyed home following an Israeli military air strike in Rafah town in the southern Gaza Strip, on November 11, 2012. Credit: AFP

Hamas's military wing and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades both claimed responsibility for the jeep attack. Hamas said the attack was in retaliation for the death on Thursday of a Palestinian child by IDF fire.

A rocket fired from Gaza scored a direct hit on a house in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, November 11, 2012.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz