Escalation in south: Beersheba hit as large rocket smashes Israeli home

In a severe escalation, Palestinian terrorists fired a rocket at Beersheba early Wednesday morning. It struck and demolished a home. No Israeli casualties reported.

By Aryeh Savir, World Israel News

Palestinian terrorists fired a rocket towards the southern city of Beersheba early Wednesday morning, directly hitting and demolishing a home. There were no Israeli casualties in the incident.

At 3:39 AM, Israelis in the city of Beersheba, which has a population of over 200,000, woke to the blaring of sirens sending many running to bomb shelters after terrorists launched a rocket from the Gaza Strip.

Just moments before the long-range rocket struck the home, the mother of the family living there grabbed her three children and ran to a fortified room in the house, saving her life and those of her children. The four were treated for shock.

“We had a great miracle here,” said a young boy who lived in the one of the houses near the one that was hit. “My whole family was sleeping. When we heard the siren we immediately ran to the safe room in the house. I wouldn’t have believed that it would fall so close. In the safe room we heard the missile fall. It was really loud and strong. My two little sisters wouldn’t stop shaking and crying.”

Israel Radio reports that the rocket wasn’t intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system because there were no batteries deployed in the area at the time.

A second rocket fired from Gaza landed in the sea near one of the largest cities in the country. The IDF is withholding information on which city.

In an unusual pronouncement, Hamas and Islamic Jihad denounced the rocket attack on Beersheba and denied responsibility, Ynet news reports.

Israel retaliates

In response to the rockets fired from Gaza, Israel Air Force (IAF) fighters launched several reprisals against terror targets in Gaza.

Palestinians report that three were wounded in the strikes. One was killed according to Israeli news reports.

This is the first rocket attack from Gaza in two months, and the first rocket to hit Beersheba in over four years.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered the shutdown of all three entrances from Gaza into Israel and the reduction of Gaza’s fishing areas to three nautical miles instead of six.

On Tuesday, he said the time has come to deliver a “heavy blow” to Hamas after weeks of rising violence along the border.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot cut a trip to the U.S. short and is on his way back to Israel.

Beersheba Mayor Ruvik Danilovich ordered schools closed on Wednesday. Neighboring municipalities began their school day later.

Tensions on Israel’s border with Gaza have become more intense in recent days, with Palestinian-initiated violence growing in volume and intensity.

Speaking to IDF Radio, Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan called for a severe Israeli reaction that would “exact a heavy toll from Hamas’ leadership.”

The Security Cabinet is slated to convene later today to decide the next steps regarding the escalation in Gaza.

While Israel had been working to ease tensions on the border and help ease a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the government has warned that Hamas’ actions are leading the area towards a full-scale war.