The Israeli military threatened Hamas on Monday evening, in response to a barrage of more than 300 rockets and mortar shells fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip in the preceding hours, saying the terror group would “feel the power of the IDF’s response in the coming hours.”
The army said it bombed some 70 targets linked to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups throughout the Gaza Strip, including three attack tunnels, in retaliation for the massive fusillade.
“The Hamas terror group is responsible for everything that occurs in and emanates from the Gaza Strip, and it will bear the consequences of the terrorist activities conducted against Israeli citizens,” the military said in a statement.
Shortly after 4:30 p.m., terrorists fired a Kornet anti-tank guided missile at a bus parked a few hundred meters from the Gaza border, seriously injuring a 19-year-old Israeli soldier, the army said.
More troops had reportedly been on the bus, but exited before the missile struck.
The soldier was taken to Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center, with injuries throughout his body, medics said.
The military initially refrained from identifying him as a soldier until his family could be notified.
The barrage from Gaza came less than a day after an IDF special operations officer was killed in an operation gone awry that also killed seven Palestinian gunmen in the Strip. Following Sunday night’s incident, the Gaza-ruling terror group Hamas said “the blood of our righteous martyrs will not be wasted.”
The renewed clashes dashed hopes that Israel and Hamas, an Islamist terror group that seized control of Gaza in 2007 and seeks to destroy Israel, would uphold a precarious ceasefire agreement recently brokered by Egypt and the United Nations and supported by Qatar.
The barrage of more than 300 projectiles from Gaza — the largest attack from the Strip since the 2014 war — struck a number of homes and buildings in cities and towns throughout southern Israel, causing significant damage and a number of light injuries.
The rocket attacks triggered sirens in Israeli communities close to the Gaza Strip, in the cities of Beersheba and Ashkelon, and even as far away as the Dead Sea and the West Bank’s Hebron Hills.
Some 60 incoming rockets and mortar shells from Gaza were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, the military said, while several others struck homes and buildings in Israeli communities near the border, causing light injuries and severe damage. The IDF said that the majority of the projectiles that were not intercepted fell in open areas, causing neither casualties nor damage.
Rockets struck homes in the coastal city of Ashkelon and the southern Israeli towns of Sderot and Netivot, sparking fires. A mortar shell also hit a powerline in the Sdot Negev region of southern Israel, according to local government officials.
In total, at least 10 people were taken to Ashkelon’s Barzilai Hospital or Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center for treatment, with more receiving first aid on the scene, mostly from shrapnel from exploding rockets or injuries sustained while running for cover.
In response to the attack, the Israeli military launched a series of strikes against targets connected to terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip. The strikes were carried out by attack helicopters, fighter jets, tanks and other aircraft, the army said.
According to the military, over 70 sites operated by the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups — the largest organizations in the Strip — were bombed in the raids.
The IDF said the targets included a Hamas attack tunnel, military facilities in the Gaza cities of Rafah and Deir al-Balah, as well as an observation post in Jabaliya. In addition, two PIJ attack tunnels were bombed by Israeli fighter jets in Rafah, along with a weapons production factory and four military facilities, the military said. A rocket launching position in Jabaliya was also targeted, it said.
The military released footage of some of its attacks, which appeared to show strikes on Palestinian rocket-launching teams, military facilities and other sites in the coastal enclave.
At least three Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire in the retaliatory attacks and three others were wounded, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said. The Gaza health ministry identified the dead as Muhammed al-Tatri, 27, Muhammed Oudeh, 22, and Hamad al-Nahal, 23. The military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group claimed two of the dead as its members.
“In addition, a number of rocket-launching cells were attacked,” the IDF said in a statement. “The IDF is continuing at this time to attack terror cites throughout the Strip.”
Times of Israel staff and agencies contributed to this report.