TEL AVIV – Following a barrage of more than 180 rockets, the IDF issued directives to residents of southern Israel on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, instructing them to close down summer camps and stay near bomb shelters.
On Wednesday night, summer camp organizers were told they could hold their activities inside “protected areas,” but the army then said to cancel all camps until the rocket fire stops.
Institutions of higher education were also closed.
Southern residents were instructed to remain close to a bomb shelter. The army also told people not to organize large gatherings.
Farmers were told not to work in their fields.
Government offices and private businesses were instructed to operate in a limited capacity, the military said. Trains would run partially.
One woman, a Thai foreign worker, was seriously injured overnight Thursday morning when a rocket hit her home in the Eshkol region of southern Israel, adjacent to the border with Gaza.
Early Thursday afternoon a Palestinian official from the Gaza Strip declared an end to hostilities and pledged that armed factions in the Strip would maintain the peace if Israel did the same.
The announcement was followed by more rocket attacks, with sirens going off in multiple Israeli towns, but causing no injuries. Sirens were also heard in the city of Beersheba, some 40 kilometers from the Strip, marking the first time residents of the city ran for shelter since the 2014 Gaza war.
“The current round in Gaza has ended. The resistance responded to the enemy’s crimes in Gaza. The continuation of calm in Gaza depends on (Israel’s) behavior,” said the official, speaking on behalf of a number of Palestinian terrorist groups including Hamas, which rules the Strip.
Throughout Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Gaza terror groups fired over 180 rockets, with more than 30 intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. At least seven people were injured and damage was caused to private and commercial property as well as infrastructure throughout the area, the army said.
In response, the Israeli Air Force targeted over 150 Hamas “terror sites” in the coastal enclave. According to the Hamas-run health ministry, three people were killed including a pregnant woman and her toddler, and a Hamas fighter who is the son of a senior commander of Hamas’ armed wing. The IAF also struck two Hamas terror tunnels and a tunnel opening, as well as a terrorist cell that launched mortar shells.
“The wide-reaching attacks that the IDF has conducted caused damage and destruction to some 150 military and strategic targets belonging to the Hamas terror organization, which represent a significant blow to Hamas,” the army said in a statement.
Housing Minister Yoav Gallant, who serves on the security cabinet, warned that Israel may escalate retaliatory attacks if needed.
“Whatever is needed to protect our citizens and our soldiers will be done, no matter what the price will be in Gaza,” Gallant said.
“Let’s hope for peace, and let’s be ready for war,” he added.
A senior IDF officer on Thursday morning warned that Israel was “rapidly nearing a confrontation” with Hamas in Gaza.
“Hamas is making serious mistakes, and we may have to make it clear after four years that this path doesn’t yield any results for it and isn’t worth it,” he said.