Fifty-five projectiles were fired from Gaza into Israel on Wednesday evening, with one reportedly landing near a library in Sderot.
Several sirens in Sderot were sounded warning residents of incoming rockets. “We heard four Color Red sirens and an explosion,” Meital Ohayon of Sderot told Tazpit News Agency. Ohayon had been dressing her children in Purim costumes at the time of the attacks.
Elsewhere in southern Israel, a 57-year-old woman broke her hip as she raced to make it to a shelter in time.
The attack was reportedly the heaviest rocket barrage against Israel in two years.
The rockets were launched from the east Gaza City neighborhood of Shuja’iyya, according to reports. Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The IDF said that eight rockets had hit urban, civilian areas including Sderot. The IDF Spokesperson’s Office added that the Iron Dome rocket defense system intercepted three rockets.
Rocket warning sirens were heard across Israeli communities bordering the Gaza Strip, including the Eshkol Regional Council and Sdot Negev Regional Council, as well as Netivot and Beer Sheva.
“Since Operation Pillar of Defense, we have experienced quiet and we are finally living normal daily routines. This was the most significant escalation since that operation,” Haim Yellin, the head of the Eshkol Regional Council said. “The government of Israel must act accordingly both militarily and on a state level so that the quiet will return.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded, saying that “It seems that the rocket fire came in response to our counter-terrorism operations yesterday. We will continue to thwart and harm those who wish to harm us and will [retaliate] against them with great intensity.”
Islamic Jihad declared that the firing of the rockets was in retaliation for Israel’s targeting and killing of three Islamic Jihad operatives as they prepared to fire at Israel from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday.
Israel intercepted an Iranian shipment of rockets heading to the Gaza Strip last week. Israeli military sources said the 409 rockets on that shipment, which also included arms, were intended for Islamic Jihad.