Three Israeli civilians were killed and two seriously injured when rockets hit two buildings in the southern Israeli town of Kiryat Malachi early Thursday morning. Yediot Ahronot reported that two infants and a four-year-old boy are among the injured and have been hospitalised. Over 115 rockets have been fired into Israel since Israel’s ‘Pillar of Defence’ military operation began with the targeted assassination of senior Hamas leader, Ahmed al-Jabari on Wednesday afternoon. Four Grad rockets reached the Beersheva area. Barrages have also hit the towns of Gan Yavne, Ofakim and the city of Ashkelon, causing damage but no injuries, with the city of Ashdod also targeted. In each case residents receive a few seconds warning with air raid sirens to take shelter before the rockets hit.

The Iron Dome defence system, which was designed to protect Israel’s southern towns from indiscriminate attacks, has reportedly intercepted about 25 rockets. Police have been put on the second to highest level of alert in order to ensure security in public places across Israel and roadblocks have been put in place to prevent terror attacks. All schools within a 40km radius of Gaza have been closed, and people employed within 7km of Gaza have been told not to go to work. About one million Israelis live within the 40km radius.

Most Israeli politicians praised the Israeli airstrikes, with supportive statements released by members of Likud, Kadima, Labour, Yisrael Beitenu and the Jewish Home party. Prospective returning politicians Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni, were also quick to comment publicly and positively on the operation. Only representatives of the left wing Meretz, far-left Hadash, and Arab Balad parties expressed concern.