JERUSALEM, Israel – Air raid sirens sounded in cities and towns across southern Israel Monday afternoon and continued into the evening as Hamas terrorists fired more than 200 rockets, mortar shells and missiles, 100 of them in less than an hour.
Hamas announced "the beginning of bombardment of the enemy's settlements" in response to Sunday's confrontation in southern Gaza that killed an Israeli Special Forces officer and seriously injured another. Seven Hamas terrorists were killed in the operation.
Color Red air raid sirens sounded in Sderot, Netivot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheva and the Dead Sea. IDF Home Front Command ordered residents to stay close to safe rooms and bomb shelters Monday evening as the bombardment continued and canceled public gatherings.
Paramedics treated residents injured by shrapnel and others for shock. At least 16 Israelis have been injured, one critically.
One rocket hit a bus near the border, setting it ablaze and seriously injuring one man standing nearby. Paramedics treated the driver for shock before transporting him to the hospital.
Iron Dome anti-missile batteries intercepted most of the rockets, while others struck homes in several communities causing property damage and injuries and setting fires.
Israeli pilots responded with targeted airstrikes on the terror infrastructure in the Strip.
Following security consultations Monday evening at Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv with the defense minister, chief of staff and other senior defense officials, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the IDF the green light to retaliate heavily to the rocket barrages. The Security Cabinet will meet tomorrow to discuss the escalation.