Hundreds of rockets were launched from Gaza at south and central Israel, and six people in Israel were dead as of Wednesday morning - in one of the most intensive rounds of violence that has started on Monday. In Gaza, at least 43 were killed by Israeli strikes in one of the most intensive aerial exchange in years.
The flare-up is by far the worst since the 2014 Gaza war, with the Tel Aviv area seeing the heaviest rocket attack in its history.
The latest round of fighting began after Israel refused to comply with a Hamas ultimatum to withdraw its forces from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and the Temple Mount by 6 P.M. on Monday evening. The threat followed weeks of increasingly violent clashes between Jews and Palestinians in Jerusalem in which hundreds were wounded.
There have been a number of escalations since the 2014 war. Here's how they compare.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired nearly 100 rockets at southern Israel within a two-day period in February 2020 following clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians suspected of laying an explosive charge next to the border fence. Four Palestinians were wounded by retaliatory Israeli strikes.
Prior to the current hostilities, there were several other rounds of rocket fire, including 12 rockets in August 2020, 13 rockets in September 2020 and 36 rockets just last month, which did not lead to significant escalations.
In just two days of fighting, 690 rockets were launched at Israel, 240 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system, as the Israeli army struck hundreds of targets in the Strip. Four Israelis were killed and four wounded as rockets fell on the south. Twenty-five Palestinians, including two pregnant women and two infants, were killed.
The escalation followed Israeli strikes against Hamas targets carried out after two Israeli military personnel stationed on the border were wounded by gunfire from the Strip.
Seven people were wounded on March 25 after a house in Mishmeret, north of Tel Aviv, was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a visit to Washington and return to Israel. On March 26, the military carried out a series of strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. The following day, sirens sounded in the southern city of Ashkelon and a rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system.
This escalation came a little over a week after Israel carried out airstrikes in Gaza in response to the launch of two rockets that may have been fired from Gaza by accident.
A 40-year-old man was killed on the night of November 12, 2018 when a house was hit by a rocket in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, just up the Mediterranean coast from the Gaza Strip. The incident followed an IDF Special Forces operation in southern Gaza in which one Israeli officer and seven Palestinians were killed. The Magen David Adom emergency medical service said that it treated 53 Israelis from the rocket fire that evening. The IDF launched a series of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip in response, killing three.
According to the IDF, 460 rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip during the three-day round of hostilities. Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted more than 100 of them.
Israel mulled evacuating communities along the Gaza border and came close to launching an operation in Gaza after more than 180 rockets were launched from the coastal enclave on August 8 and 9. Eleven Israelis were wounded and 13 others suffered trauma. In response, Israel bombed Gaza, striking over 150 targets and, according to Palestinians, killed three people, including a pregnant woman and a toddler.
This escalation followed an Israeli Defense Ministry report in June of that year stating that Palestinians had fired 289 rockets and mortar shells from the Gaza Strip into Israel since the beginning of the year, more than any other recent year – including 2014 prior to Operation Protective Edge.
By comparison, before the beginning of the fighting in Gaza in the summer of 2014, 205 rockets and mortar shells had been fired at Israel from the Strip. A total of 4,897 missiles were fired at Israel in 2014, including the period of the war. The following year, 2015, 21 were fired. In 2016, the figure declined to 15, followed by 35 in 2017, the Defense Ministry noted.
In June 2014, Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas operatives, sparking a wide-ranging Israeli crackdown on the group’s operations in the West Bank which eventually escalated into rocket fire and a protracted ground conflict in the Gaza Strip.
On July 7 alone, the day before Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, more than 85 rockets were fired into Israel.
According to the IDF, during 50 days of fighting between Israel, Hamas and other assorted Palestinian militant groups, some 4,562 rockets and mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip, 3,641 of which exploded in Israeli territory and 224 of which fell in built-up areas. Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted 735 rockets. The army attacked 5,262 targets in the Gaza Strip.
By the time a cease-fire was reached on August 27, more than 70 Israelis and over 2,100 Palestinians had lost their lives.