Palestinian terrorists operating out of the Gaza Strip launched more than 60 missiles and mortar shells into southern Israel on Wednesday morning, wounding at least five people.
The attacks began just before dawn and continued for several hours, sending local residents fleeing for bomb shelters and resulting in the cancellation of school across the region.
Three of the five casualties were foreign workers, two of whom sustained critical injuries. A number of homes were damaged in the barrage.
At least seven of the larger missiles were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system as they approached the coastal city of Ashkelon.
Israeli forces responded to the attacks by targeting several terrorist squads believed to be involved in the onslaught.
Gaza's Hamas rulers took credit for the bombardment, as well as for a roadside bombing along the Gaza security fence a day earlier that left an Israeli army officer critically wounded.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to respond to that earlier attack with serious force, and a senior Israeli army commander said the time to launch a ground invasion of Gaza was rapidly approaching.