A senior IDF officer told Army Radio on Thursday morning that he saw a new full-scale war with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip as inevitable.
Overnight and during the early morning hours, Gaza-based terrorists fired at least 200 rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel. Some reached as far as the coastal city of Ashkelon, and authorities prepared the surrounding population for even deeper terrorist missile strikes.
A number of Israeli homes, factories, schools and playgrounds were hit during the barrage. More than a dozen people were treated for shock, a handful suffered light injuries, and at least one person–a 30-year-old foreign worker from Thailand–was seriously wounded.
Israel responded with harsh aerial bombardments of Hamas installations, most of which are situated entirely too close to, or directly amongst, the civilian population. The Gaza Health Ministry claimed that a pregnant 23-year-old Palestinian woman and her young daughter were killed in the Israeli reprisals.
Israeli forces also began massing on the Gaza periphery, and the officer who spoke to Army Radio said a ground operation was very likely if the situation continued to deteriorate.
In preparation for that eventuality, and to minimize possible casualties from continued Hamas attacks, summer camps in the southwestern Negev region were cancelled, and local residents were warned to remain within running distance of a bomb shelter at all times.