Truce after 450-rocket blitz... but missiles continue

Israel-bound missiles are launched from Gaza

SPORADIC terror rockets from Gaza were still raining down on Israel yesterday... hours after a ceasefire went into effect.

The renewed violence threatened the fragile truce which had been brokered by Egypt and the UN.

The ceasefire was supposed to end two days of intense fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad that killed at least 34 Palestinians and paralysed parts of Israel.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the new wave of rockets and it wasn’t clear how this would affect the fate of the truce.

Israel hailed the Gaza operation as a victory with new Defence Minister Naftali Bennett saying: “The new rules of the game are clear — a terrorist who tries to hurt the citizens of Israel will no longer be able to sleep peacefully, neither in his home nor in his bed.”

In the heaviest round of fighting in months, Islamic Jihad unleashed 450 rockets against the Jewish state and Israeli warplanes blitzed terror sites in the Gaza Strip in retaliation.

“They know we will continue to strike them without mercy,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

Much of Israel was brought to a standstill on Tuesday and Wednesday as wave after wave of missiles rained down. A million children were forced to stay off school.

Hundreds of thousands of people rushed to bomb shelters as warning sirens wailed as far as Tel Aviv — 60 miles away.

Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system intercepted 90 per cent of the rockets, according to the Israel Defence Forces.

Most of the missiles fell in communities like Sderot near the Gaza border although one landed at Latrun 15 miles from Jerusalem.

A missile fell near an Osem factory in the Sha’ar Hanegev area, causing light damage.

DIRECT HIT: Smoke billows into the air from an Israeli strike on a terror target in Gaza

Of the rockets not intercepted, 60 per cent fell in open areas. One of the dozens which failed to reach Israel hit the office of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights.

Sirens sounded in Beit Shemesh outside Jerusalem after loud explosions, likely Iron Dome interceptors.

The rocket blitz followed Israeli warplanes assassinating Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata — the mastermind of recent terrorist attacks — and his wife in a pre-dawn surgical strike as they slept in their Gaza home.

IDF chief of staff Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi described al-Ata as “a living ticking bomb who until today worked and planned attacks”. Kochavi added: “He was responsible for the majority of attacks over the past year.”

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for all the rocket launches — Gaza’s Hamas rulers did not enter the fray, seen as a possible sign that the current round of violence could be brief.

The IDF’s retaliatory attacks on Gaza were swift and deadly, destroying many terror targets including rocket launchers, a military headquarters and a factory that manufactures warheads for long-range rockets.

The Israeli navy also attacked a vessel belonging to the terror group, as well as a marine training facility.

More than half of the reported Gazan fatalities were claimed as members of Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups.

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