Gaza Militants Fire Rockets at Israeli South; Casualties, Damage Reported

More than 40 rockets fired into southern Israel; eight people wounded, one seriously; Iron Dome intercepts six rockets fired at Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Be'er Sheva; Palestinians report 12 fatalities in IAF strikes on Gaza.

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Over 40 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel’s southern cities and towns on Friday. Eight people were injured and some damage was reported.

Rockets were fired at Be’er Sheva, Ashdod, Kiryat Malachi, Netivot, and Ashkelon, six of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system, one caused damage to a fence in Be’er Sheva, the rest fell in open areas causing no damage, or casualties.

Casualty from rocket barrage fired from Gaza being rushed to hospital.Credit: Eli Hershkovitz

Earlier in the evening, a rocket that fell in a town in the Be’er Tuvia Regional Council caused damage to a house, but no casualties.

One person was seriously wounded by a mortar shell that exploded in the Eshkol Regional Council, and two more were moderately and lightly hurt. The three were evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva.

An Iron Dome missile responding to a rocket launch from the Gaza Strip.Credit: AFP

Earlier Friday, two other persons were wounded in a car accident caused after a Grad rocket fell near the southern Israeli city of Ashdod. Three more Israelis were lightly wounded when they fell trying to reach bomb shelters when the alarm sounded.

Several Grad rockets were fired toward the southern Israeli city of Ashdod - two were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system, and one exploded in an open area near the city. There were no casualties but slight damage was done to a house.

A Hamas policeman inspects the remains of a vehicle after it was targeted by an Israeli air strike that killed the head of the Popular Resistance Committees militant group in Gaza, March 9, 2012.Credit: AFP

More rockets were fired at Be'er Sheva, some exploded in open areas others were intercepted by Iron Dome. The anti-missile system also successfully intercepted rockets that were fired toward Ashkelon.

Amid the rocket fire, IDF forces launched two more strikes on Gaza targets, killing three Islamic Jihad militants who were preparing to fire rockets into Israel.

Leader of the Popular Resistance Committees Zuhir al-Qaisi.

According to the Palestinians, 12 people were killed in the IAF raids on Gaza.

Israeli cities near the Gaza border were put on high alert on Friday evening, and the residents have been asked to stay close to bomb shelters. Highway 12, which runs along the Israel-Egypt border, was closed to traffic, and will remain closed on Saturday as well.

The hit on the secretary-general of the Popular Resistance Committees, Zuhir al-Qaisi, came after the IDF learned that he had been planning a terror attack on Israel's Highway 12, which runs along the Egypt-Israel border, and was the site of a deadly terror attack in August 2011, in which eight Israelis were killed.

According to the IDF Spokesperson, al-Qaisi was one of the organizers of the August attack.

al-Qaisi was reportedly in his car in northern Gaza, along with his collaborator Mahmoud Hanani, when IDF forces fired two missiles at the vehicle and killed the two.

al-Qaisi, the IDF Spokesman said, was recently organizing a large, coordinated terror attack to be carried out on Israel's border with Gaza. Hanani, a resident of Nablus, and one of the prisoners freed as part of the deal to release Gilad Shalit, and was expelled to the Gaza Strip.

The Popular Resistance Committees responded Friday to the attack, and vowed to avenge al-Qaisi's death in a way that would "shake the Zionist enemy."

Hamas' spokesman in Gaza said in response to the attack that the Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves.

Earlier Friday, prior to the IDF attack, two mortar bombs were fired into Israeli territory.

IDF officials, speaking with Army Radio following the mortar attack launched by Gaza militates, called the volley "unprovoked" and indicated that it was not in response to any army operations in the coastal enclave.



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