Red Alert sirens sounded in Israel’s northern region in the early morning hours of Friday as a Katyusha rocket was fired from Lebanon into Israel. The rocket fire from the Hezbollah enclave appears to have opened a new front against Israel.
The rocket landed in open territory in the upper Galilee area. According to reports by Walla!, the IDF believes the rocket was fired by local terror groups who are Hamas sympathizers and not the Hezbollah terror group.
The IDF is reported to have returned artillery fire in the morning, targeting the locations where it was suspected launched the rocket.
At around 3 a.m. Friday morning, residents in Haifa were abruptly awoken from their sleep as sirens warned of an incoming rocket from Gaza. Thousands of Israeli citizens rushed to bomb shelters to seek safety from the attack.
The rocket fire upon Haifa is the first time Red Alert sirens have sounded since the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
Friday morning, a rocket fired by terrorists in the Gaza Strip directly hit a gas station in the southern coastal city of Ashdod. The rocket, which was one of 20 in a barrage, caused at least one serious injury as it set off a major explosion in the area.
The seriously injured man was pulled out of his burning car by Israeli security forces moments before it exploded
Magen David Adom, Israel’s paramedic services, rushed to the scene to treat the injured. Ashdod Mayor Dr. Yehiel Lasri told Channel 2 a short time later that “the man who was seriously injured at the gas station is out of danger.” MDA paramedics were able to save his life. Two others were lightly injured.
Before the hit, Red Alert sirens sounded in Ashdod, as well as other southern coastal communities near Gaza. According to the IDF, since the start of Operation Protective Edge, terrorists in Gaza have fired 550 mortars and rockets against Israel. 118 rockets have been intercepted by the Iron Dome Missile Defense system.
The IDF is reportedly beginning preparations to launch a ground offensive on Gaza. On Thursday, 100,000 Gaza residents were warned to evacuate their homes near the security border area with Israel.
While Israel has been successful using targeting air strikes on terror targets in Gaza, a ground offensive has been called inevitable by IDF officials as Hamas has adopted the practice of using civilians as human shields against Israel.
The practice of human shields is not new to Hamas. In the past, the terror group has placed civilians on homes of terrorists and around rocket launching as a type of deterrence against Israel so as not to inflate the death toll and carry out strikes.
IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner condemned the use of human shields.
“Whereas Israel safeguards Israeli civilians with its military capabilities, the Hamas safeguards its terror capabilities with Palestinian civilians while carrying out terrorism against the people of Israel, a deplorable and gross violation of the most basic of standards,” he stated.
As of Friday morning, the total number of terror targets struck by the IDF in Gaza since the start of Operation Protective Edge is 1,100. The IDF estimates that Israeli strikes in Gaza have come at a pace of one every 4.5 minutes since Monday.