Gaza/Jerusalem, May 10 (EFE).- Militants in the Gaza Strip fired hundreds of rockets toward Israel on Wednesday hours after the Israeli military had launched renewed airstrikes on the coastal enclave, killing at least seven people and injuring 20 others.
Sixty-two of the more than 270 rockets from Gaza were intercepted by the Iron Dome air-defense system, while the majority of the rest either hit uninhabited areas or were unsuccessful launches, an Israeli army spokesperson said.
So far, no causalities have been reported in Israeli territory, but Israeli emergency services said they had treated people with injuries sustained while rushing to bomb shelters.
While the vast majority of projectiles were fired from areas close to the border with Gaza, at least one rocket was launched toward Tel Aviv, where air raid sirens forced citizens to hide in shelters for the first time in months.
The rocket fire exchange comes a day after at least 15 people, including three Islamic Jihad militant leaders, died in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, and on the same day as a military raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank that left two Palestinians dead and one wounded, Palestinian official sources said.
Among those killed in the “Shield and Arrow” operation on Gaza were Jalil Bahitini, Tareq Az Aldin and Jahed Ahnam, senior commanders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Islamist organization – considered an extremist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union.
The Chamber of Joint Military Operations, which brings together the Palestinian armed factions in Gaza – including PIJ and the Islamist Hamas movement – said Israel “will pay the price of its aggression,” suggesting a possible armed response.
Israel is in a state of emergency and is preparing for “the possibility of a long escalation and on multiple fronts,” according to Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant. He approved the recruitment of hundreds of reservists and authorized the evacuation of some 200 Israeli families in the surrounding area of Gaza.
A new cell of the PIJ that was beginning to make rocket launchers was recently dismantled in Jenin, which he said was a “dangerous precedent,” adding that also in Ramallah, in central West Bank, militants had resources to acquire weapons, including drones, to carry out attacks against Israelis.
Tuesday’s bombardments in Gaza are the Israeli response to the launch of more than 100 rockets from the enclave a week ago, allegedly orchestrated by Bahitini.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the West Bank and Israeli territories is experiencing its deadliest year since the Second Intifada, which ended in 2005.
Over 130 Palestinians have been killed during Israeli military raids and airstrikes in Gaza so far this year.
On the Israeli side, 19 people have died, victims of Palestinian attacks, most of them settlers, and among them three minors.