Playground in Sderot Damaged After Rocket Barrage on South; IDF Retaliates

YERUSHALAYIM -
A man photographs the damage caused after a rocket landed in a playground in Sderot, Monday. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

IDF forces again attacked Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza in the wake of the midday attack Monday, in which over a dozen rockets were fired at Israel. B’chasdei Shamayim, there were no injuries from the attacks that targeted southern Israel, including Ashkelon and Sderot. In the latter, a Gaza terror rocket scored a direct hit on a playground next to the town’s hesder yeshivah.

Twelve of the 14 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system.

The attack came in the midst of an interview Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was giving Army Radio – in which he was, ironically, discussing the attacks by Gaza terror groups Sunday night and the Israeli response. Netanyahu again warned Hamas and Islamic Jihad that Israel’s patience was wearing thin. “We have prepared for Hamas a surprise they cannot imagine,” he said. “I am talking about war.”

At one point in the conversation, Netanyahu told his interviewers that he had to hang up. “I need to cut this short. I need to consult with top IDF officials, I just got a call from the Defense Ministry.” He did not explain what had happened, but moments later the reports of the fresh attacks by Islamic Jihad came in.

Earlier in the interview, Netanyahu said that “if Israel needs to enter Gaza for a major land campaign, we will have to give the terror groups a bigger beating than we did during Operations Cast Lead or Protective Edge,” the last two major campaigns in Gaza. “It’s possible we will have to conduct ‘the mother of all operations.’ We are preparing painful surprises for them. A war in Gaza will cost them a great deal,” he added.

Shrapnel from one of the Iron Dome interceptions shattered a car windshield in the community of Nir Am in the Sha’ar Hanegev region, and a playground in Sderot was damaged.

It was not immediately clear if the park was directly struck by a rocket or if it was hit by shrapnel from an interception.

Flames and smoke are seen during an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip, Monday. (Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Sirens were heard in Sderot and surrounding communities in the Sha’ar Hanegev region, sending thousands to bomb shelters.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group claimed responsibility for the latest rounds of rockets.

Meanwhile, Channel 13 quoted Palestinian media as saying that Egyptian negotiators are in talks with Palestinian Islamic Jihad commanders in an attempt to prevent a wide-scale escalation.