Israel mulls response to deadly Gaza missile barrage

Sunday, August 21, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

Palestinian forces operating out of the Gaza Strip fired nearly 100 missiles into southern Israel over the weekend, killing one person and wounding dozens more, and prompting Israel to consider a major military action against the Hamas-ruled territory.

The missile attacks escalated after last week's three-pronged terrorist assault near Eilat, which Israel responded to by eliminating the leadership of the Gaza-based group responsible.

On Saturday, scores of long-range GRAD missiles and short-range Kassam rockets rained down on the southern Israel cities of Beersheva, Ashkelon and Ashdod, as well as on numerous nearby villages.

One missile scored a direct hit on a house in Beersheva, wounding several people, including a baby.

Later that night, a missile hit a vehicle traveling in Beersheva, killing 38-year-old Yossi Shoshan, who was racing home to his nine-month pregnant wife as the air raid sirens sounded.

At least two more victims suffered critical injuries and are fighting for their lives at local hospitals.

The barrage continued Sunday morning, with one GRAD missile destroying part of a schoolhouse in Beersheva. Fortunately, the school was still empty for summer vacation.

Israel carried out limited aerial raids on terrorist installations in Gaza as the missiles were falling, but officials said such an assault by the terrorists demanded a more severe response.

Most of the Israeli leadership is agreed that a large-scale ground invasion of Gaza is undesirable, though many argue it is the only way to fully end the threat.

Instead, Israel is likely to expand its aerial targeting of terrorist targets, and possibly launch small, isolated ground incursions to deal with more serious threats.

However, the situation remains fluid, and at any moment could escalate into a far more serious conflagration.

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