A volley of rockets slammed into southern Israel Monday morning, hours after a tense night which saw tit-for-tat Israeli airstrikes and Gazan missile attacks.
At least 16 rockets were fired out of Gaza at Israeli communities Monday morning, most of them hitting open areas in the Eshkol region, the army said.
In the Sdot Negev region, two people were treated for shock after a high-trajectory rocket hit near two homes, causing light damage, according to police.
“We heard a very loud explosion and afterward saw the broken window and damaged door,” an occupant of one of the homes told the Ynet news site.
An agricultural grove where the rocket landed also suffered damage, Israel Radio reported.
בהמשך לירי תל"מ ליישוב בנגב: הנפילה אותרה, נגרם נזק מרסיסים לשני בתים. שני נפגעי חרדה pic.twitter.com/KshblwEqwQ
— משטרת ישראל (@IL_police) June 30, 2014
At least eight rockets landed in open areas in the Eshkol region near the Gaza Strip just after 7 a.m., IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said.
Media reports put the number of rockets fired at Israel over the morning at over a dozen, though exact figures varied.
The other rockets all landed in open areas, and caused no injuries or property damage.
Earlier Monday morning, three rockets from the Gaza Strip struck open areas in the same region, the military said.
Haim Yellin, the head of the Eshkol Regional Council, warned that the deterrent effect achieved by Israel’s last major engagement with Gaza, 2012′s Operation Pillar of Defense, had waned.
“Israel’s government has two arms, political and military, and it needs to use both wisely to return quiet to the region,” he said according to Ynet.
He added that classes for Monday, the last day of school, would be held as normal.
The salvo of rockets will likely serve to ratchet up already high tensions as Israel and the Palestinians increasingly trade fire along the southern front.
The missile attacks came hours after Israeli aircraft retaliated against rocket fire emanating from the Strip in a Sunday evening strike that Palestinian reports said left one Palestinian dead and three injured.
The army said in a statement that the raid was targeting terrorists “in the southern Gaza Strip, during their final preparations to launch rockets at civilian communities of southern Israel.”
“Hamas is responsible for the outrageous attacks originating from Gaza, and will be pursued as such,” Lerner said.
Palestinians said the man who was killed in the Israeli airstrike had been a member of Hamas.
The Israel Air Force attack on Khan Younis came minutes after Palestinians in the coastal enclave fired a volley of rockets at southwestern Israel. The Iron Dome defense system shot down two of the projectiles — Grad rockets — over Netivot. There were no reports of injury or damage in the rocket attack.
Early Sunday morning, air force planes struck 12 sites in Gaza in response to rockets fired over the weekend. Two rockets hit the town of Sderot, close to the border with Gaza, late Saturday, causing a massive fire that destroyed a paint factory.
Senior government figures said Sunday that Israel was prepared to ramp up operations against Hamas, which it holds responsible for the fire, in order to stem the rockets.
We are ready to expand this operation as per need,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet Sunday morning.
According to Israeli officials, June saw a spike in rocket attacks, with 4.5 times the number of rockets launched at Israel compared to the previous month, from 13 rockets launched in May to over 60 in June.
The latest series of attacks comes amid an escalation in hostilities along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, as IDF troops scour the West Bank for three missing Israeli teenagers.
Israel has accused Hamas, which rules the Strip, of abducting the teens on June 12 and named two Hamas men as the suspected perpetrators.
Stuart Winer and Marissa Newman contributed to this report.