Hamas and Palestinian groups have fired more than 400 missiles at Israel since yesterday afternoon and attacks are continuing this morning.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) confirmed that this was the largest-ever bombardment of southern Israel in a single day.
The IDF said it intercepted 100 of the missiles with its Iron Dome anti-missile system but was unable to prevent several buildings being hit in southern Israeli towns. A 40-year-old man named Mahmoud Abu Asbah, a Palestinian resident of the West Bank town of Halhul, north of Hebron, was killed after a house was hit by a missile in Ashkelon late Monday night, authorities report this morning. Eight others were wounded in the strike, including two women who were in the same building at the time of the attack are said to be in critical condition. In all, more than 50 Israelis have been treated for injuries since Monday, most of them light wounds or stress-related trauma, authorities said.
The missile bombardment began shortly after 16:30, when Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) fired a Kornet anti-tank guided missile at an Israeli bus near the border, seriously injuring an IDF soldier who was on board at the time. Dozens of other soldiers had previously been on the bus, parked near the Black Arrow memorial near Kibbutz Kfar Azza, and exited moments before the missile struck.
Hamas and PIJ have warned that they will expand the range of their missile attacks if Israeli strikes on Gaza continue. “Approximately one million Zionists will be within the range of our missiles if the Zionist enemy’s decision is to continue its aggression,” a Hamas spokesman said. The military wing of Hamas called the attack on Ashkelon a “warning”. A senior Hamas official told Kan Radio News that there has been no developments towards agreeing a ceasefire. The IDF estimate that Hamas and PIJ have at least 20,000 missiles and mortars in their arsenal.