ASHKELON, Israel – Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups accepted an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire with Israel on Tuesday, right after terrorizing Israeli civilians with hundreds of rockets attacks launched into Israel over a 24-hour period.
Israel had responded with airstrikes, but the Israeli response may not be over yet. There was no immediate word from Israel on whether it had accepted a deal.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his Security Cabinet Tuesday to decide how to respond to the biggest single day of rocket attacks from Gaza ever. The unprecedented barrage has brought the Jewish state to a knife's edge between a ceasefire and war.
Air raid sirens and explosions tormented southern Israel with the sounds of war on Monday.
Terrorists in the Gaza Strip launched some 400 rockets, mortars and missiles at Israel. The Iron Dome Anti-Missile batteries struck down about 100. Some fell inside populated areas.
"Those rockets have struck inside Israel as well as inside cities in the south such as where we are now in Ashkelon," Israel Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told CBN News.
This building in the coastal city of Ashkelon took a direct hit from one of the rockets fired from Gaza, about 12 miles to the south. You can see cookies in the cupboard. You can see the damage caused by the rocket.
Rocket Damage, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff
First responders removed the body of a Palestinian Arab in his 40s from under the rubble. Two women were also injured, and this is just one of hundreds of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel in the past 24 hours.
Bitton Maimon, an ambulance driver in the IDF reserves, lives next door to the building that was hit.
"The feeling is very bad. I have a father. He's 90 years old and he was terrible last night, he panicked," Maimon told CBN News.
Rosenfeld said about a million Israelis have been affected by the current round of violence.
"The message to the public is to stay safe. When the sirens go off there are 15 seconds or 30 seconds or 45 seconds to take cover," he said.
Bomb Shelter in Ashkelon, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff
Despite the situation, Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimoni said his city of 150,000 residents is standing strong.
"As you can see, we went through a night that wasn't simple…The feeling here isn't nice, but on the other side I see the sturdiness of the residents here. It really, really gives a tail wind to everyone," Shimoni said.
Rocket Shrapnel, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff
The IDF responded to the barrages by attacking some 150 Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad military targets in Gaza, including a Hamas television station and governmental structures.
"I think we're in a difficult period at the moment – 24 hours, 48 hours it will pass," Rosenfeld said. "The IDF is doing everything they can. The Israeli national police are protecting people within the populated areas, the cities in the South."
The US led the condemnation of the rocket barrages against Israel. US envoy Jason Greenblatt, tweeted:
Terrorists in Gaza are again attacking Israel with tools of war. These rocket & mortar attacks on Israeli towns must be condemned by all. Israel is forced once again into military action to defend its citizens. We stand with Israel as it defends itself against these attacks.
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) November 12, 2018
Hamas and Islamic Jihad said the rocket fire was revenge for an Israeli intelligence-gathering incursion that went awry earlier this week.
As Israel teeters on the brink of war, Maimon said if it were up to him, he'd know what to do: "Tell Trump to tell Bibi [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] and [Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor] Lieberman to work to finish this area of Gaza. They don't want to live in peace; they choose blood," he said.