The Iron Dome intercepted two Iranian-made Fajr-5 missiles aimed at Tel Aviv on Saturday. The missiles marked the third attack on the heavily populated central city in as many days, after Palestinian terrorists from Gaza fired four missiles toward the financial capital on Thursday and Friday, prompting red alert air raid sirens to sound in the city.
The Defense Ministry deployed an upgraded Iron Dome battery in the Gush Dan area in the center of Israel on Saturday morning, after rushing its production in light of escalation. The battery is the fifth Iron Dome system operational in Israel.
Islamic Jihad leader Khalid Batsh said on Saturday that the launch of rockets at Tel Aviv from Gaza show “the rules of the game have changed in the region,” Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported.
The attack followed volley after volley of rockets aimed at southern towns on Saturday, as red alert sirens wailed repeatedly, warning residents to flee for cover. Two rockets also landed outside the capital Jerusalem on Friday. One rocket landed near a Palestinian village in the West Bank, shattering windows and scaring residents. Another struck a home in Ashdod directly, injuring five Israeli civilians.
Two rockets were fired at Rishon Lezion on Friday.
Also on Friday, rockets in Ashdod lightly injured five people, and caused damage to a house. Houses were also damaged in Eshkol and Be’er Tuviya. Four IDF soldiers were lightly injured by shrapnel from a rocket in the Eshkol area.
According to Israel Radio, over 70 rockets have fallen on the South on the fourth day of Operation Pillar of Defense. The Iron Dome rocket defense system intercepted 25 of the rockets.
In total, Palestinians fired 740 rockets toward the Jewish state since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense on Wednesday, but only around 30 landed in built-up areas. Iron Dome intercepted 245 projectiles in total, maintaining a 90% intercept rate. Only 27 of the rockets, about 4 percent, ultimately landed in urban areas.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz instructed the military on Saturday afternoon to increase the rate of strikes on terrorist cells, among them rocket launching squads.
The Israel Air Force struck 200 targets in the Gaza Strip overnight Friday, including 120 rocket launchers and 20 tunnels, bringing the total number of targets throughout Operation Pillar of Defense to 830.
Officials in Gaza said 47 Palestinians, including eight children and a pregnant woman, had been killed since Israel began its air strikes.
Among the targets was Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh’s headquarters in the northern Gaza Strip early Saturday morning, according to the IDF Spokesman’s Office.
Haniyeh was not at the headquarters during the IAF strike, Israel Radio reported. Other targets included the Hamas Interior Ministry and its police compound, as well as a training facility and rocket launching squads.
On Friday evening Defense Minister Ehud Barak received Cabinet approval for the IDF’s request to increase the maximum number of reservists it could enlist to 75,000 ahead of a possible Gaza ground operation.
Debate over an incursion into Gaza comes after four days of constant rocket-fire from the Strip, which has reached as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for the first time, and targeted Israeli strikes against terrorist leaders and weapons depots in Gaza.
Politicians outside the government on Saturday demanded an exit strategy ahead of a possible ground operation.