The Israeli security cabinet approved on Wednesday night a new wave of air strikes against Hamas terror targets in the Gaza Strip, as the total number of rockets launched into Israel territory exceeded 1,300, with about 180 on Wednesday.
A six-year-old boy was killed Wednesday by a direct rocket hit in the southern town of Sderot, which also left his mother and several others wounded.
Earlier, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had launched a serial aerial attack on Hamas after Palestinian militants fired a massive rocket barrage night over the center of the country and the south, with the IDF killing senior Hamas military commanders in what marked the most serious fighting since the Gaza war in 2014.
Bassem Issa, brigade commander for Hamas Gaza City, is among the senior members of the terrorist group who were killed in Israeli airstrikes, according to Israel’s Security Agency (ISA).
“I congratulate the ISA, the Air Force, Southern Command and the IDF for the operation that targeted senior Hamas commanders. Whoever attacks us — will pay a severe price,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
The IDF and the ISA killed several members of Hamas’s military leaders in strikes in Gaza city and Khan Younis, who represent “a central part of the ‘General Staff Forum’ and are considered close to the head of Hamas’s military wing, Muhammad Deif.”
In a joint operation with the ISA, Israeli army fighter jets struck a building and killed two Hamas military intelligence operatives — Hassan Kaogi, head of the Hamas military intelligence security department, and his deputy Wail Issa, head of the military intelligence counter espionage department. Issa is the brother of Marwan Issa, the Deputy Commander of the Hamas.
Also Wednesday, Netanyahu spoke by telephone with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Netanyahu thanked Blinken for American support for Israel’s right to self-defense, which the latter reiterated in the conversation.
Hamas has fired over 1,300 rockets at Israeli cities in the south and the center since Monday. As a result six civilians have been killed by rocket fire in Lod, Ashkelon, Rishon-LeZion, and Sderot, and over 153 were injured. The Israeli army announced that combat soldier Staff Sgt. Omer Tabib, 21, of the Nahal Brigade, was killed Wednesday morning by an anti-tank missile fired by Hamas from Gaza into Israel.
Israel said that about 200 of those rockets fired by the Hamas exploded inside densely populated Gaza neighborhoods.
The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said that 53 Palestinians have died in the current hostilities since Monday, with another 320 wounded.
Earlier on Wednesday, the IDF’s fighter jets struck a multi-story building used by the Hamas terror organization, and which housed the organization’s military intelligence and West Bank headquarters.
“Prior to the strike, the IDF provided advance warning to civilians in the building and provided sufficient time for them to evacuate the site,” the Israeli army said.
Editor’s note: This article will be updated with developing events.
1st published in the Algemeiner.