The IDF deployed two Iron Dome defense batteries near the cities of Beersheba and Ashdod Thursday night amid growing tensions in the country’s south, as rocket fire from the Gaza Strip persisted even after a ceasefire was declared between Jerusalem and Islamic Jihad.
Earlier Thursday, an emergency air defense reservists call-up was issued by the IDF.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon green lighted the call-up during a security cabinet meeting, Haaretz reported. IDF officials told the news outlet the emergency measure would be of “limited” scale for the time being.
An emergency call-up must typically be approved by the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee before it officially takes effect, though some past call-ups have been ratified retroactively after reservists were already en route to their bases.
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz returned to Israel Thursday evening from a trip to the US. He is expected to hold a number of meetings over the violence in the south, news site NRG reported.
The decision to add two Iron Dome batteries to protect Beersheba and Ashdod could mean the IDF is expecting hostilities to widen. a number of the anti-missile batteries are already deployed outside cities near Gaza
Some eight rockets were fired at southern Israel Thursday evening, several-hours after Gazan terror group Islamic Jihad announced it would halt rocket launches from the Strip.
One missile, heading for a populated area of Netivot, was shot down by an Iron Dome anti-rocket battery, the IDF said.
Several more missiles hit open areas in the Sderot, Shaar Hanegev and Sdot Negev areas after 8 p.m. No injuries or damage were reported.
Earlier in the evening, two rockets were launched at the Ashkelon region, sending residents scurrying for shelter.
The flare up began Wednesday evening, as Gaza-based terror group Islamic Jihad launched a barrage of over 60 rockets at Israel. The IDF responded to those attacks by hitting 29 sites in Gaza from the air Wednesday night.
Thursday morning saw more sporadic rocket fire, drawing a response by Israeli planes, after which Islamic Jihad announced a ceasefire, reportedly brokered by Egypt.
After the ceasefire announcement, Israeli officials said the military would respond to “calm with calm,” according to Israel Radio.
Three Gazans were also injured Thursday evening after attempting to launch a rocket from the northern strip. The rocket likely malfunctioned and exploded on the ground, sources in Gaza said.
Times of Israel Staff and AP contributed to this report