Fast Facts: Latest major outbreak of violence between Israel and Gaza

Israeli civilian bus destroyed by a Hamas anti-tank missile
  • Up to 400 rockets and mortars have been fired by Hamas and other terrorist groups into Israel over the past 24 hours.
  • About 60 were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defence system. (Missile fire from Gaza and Iron Dome interceptions:  Video   Video 1)
  • A direct hit on a home in Ashkelon (Source: Israeli police)

    In Israel, 12 buildings have been damaged including 7 direct hits at buildings including residential buildings.

  • Meanwhile, an anti-tank missile struck a bus transporting soldiers inside Israel near the Gaza border, critically injuring a 19-year-old soldier.
  • On Sunday night, in communities near the Gaza border, Israeli schools were ordered shut and local farmers were forbidden to work in their fields on Monday.
  • In response, the IDF struck 70 targets in Gaza, including the headquarters of al-Aqsa TV, run by the Islamist militant group Hamas. Residents near the television offices in central Gaza said they had evacuated when a warning missile struck the building, and thus no one was killed in the strike on the Al-Aqsa headquarters.
  • The IDF struck the military intelligence wing of Hamas, terror tunnels, Islamic Jihad targets and weapons manufacturing sites.
  • Shrapnel damage to a home in Ashkelon

    At least 45 Israelis have been injured in Ashkelon, of which 2 are critically wounded with the others being treated for shock or light wounds. A man killed by rocket fire in Ashkelon was reported to be a Palestinian residing illegally in Israel.

  • At least 4 Palestinians have been killed and 20 injured in Israeli retaliatory strikes.
  • The latest escalation follows a covert Israeli operation inside the Gaza Strip on Sunday night which led to violence when the unit’s presence was exposed. An exchange of fire between the troops and Palestinian fighters ensued, turning deadly and leading to the Israeli unit’s call for backup from the air. Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, chief of the general staff of the Israel Defense Forces, said the team was involved in a “very meaningful operation for Israel’s security.” He said its mission was not to kill or kidnap, but had been related to intelligence gathering.
  • The Israeli army did not release the identity of the dead soldier but said he had been instrumental in ensuring the safe return of the undercover unit. It is reported that he was an Israeli Druze, and is being referred to in Israel as Lt. Col. M. Israeli PM Netanyahu has said in tribute to the fallen special forces commander, “I bow my head in sadness at the loss of Lt. Col. M., a glorious fighter who fell during an IDF operation in the Gaza Strip. The day will come when we can tell of all his valour. The citizens of Israel owe him an enormous debt.”
  • One other Israeli soldier was moderately injured in the firefight. Seven Palestinian fighters, including a Hamas commander, were killed in the firefight. The Hamas commander was reportedly Nour Baraka. Baraka allegedly held leadership in Hamas’ terror tunnel program and served as the commander of a Khan Younis Hamas battalion.
  • In recent months, there were efforts to forge a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, a process that has been brokered by Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar, including Israel allowing Qatari funds into the Gaza Strip, humanitarian projects by international institutions and an extension of Gaza’s permitted fishing area to 12 nautical miles.
  • As part of that process, on Sunday Israel had permitted US$15 million in cash from Qatar to be transported into Gaza to pay delayed salaries of civil servants in the Hamas government.
  • The conflict has escalated dramatically since the violent and ongoing Hamas-orchestrated weekly riots along the border fence that began March 30. Violence demonstrations evolved into the near-daily use of fire kites and incendiary balloons to burn property and fields inside Israel, among other violent incidents over recent months, such as the breaching of the barrier by terrorists to attempt to destroy property or kill or kidnap civilians.
  • Sirens continue to blare across Israel’s south as of this posting.