update: The major Saturday morning flare-up between Gazan militants and Israel, which began with 100 Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets launched in under the span of an hour Saturday morning looks to turn into a potentially prolonged conflict. This followed the death of two Hamas members and at least one Palestinian civilian on Friday as tensions along the Gaza border fence came to a breaking point.
The IDF and local media now say the militants have fired nearly 300 rockets into Israel during sustained fire on Saturday. Israelis have entered bomb shelters throughout southern and central Israel, with sirens blaring and the Iron Dome defense system active throughout the day and into the evening.
The Jerusalem Post reports:
Israel appeared to be on the verge of a prolonged escalation of its conflict with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad after close to 300 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards southern Israeli communities on Saturday, striking several homes and leaving one elderly woman severely wounded by shrapnel.
At least one Israeli civilian as been seriously injured, while Gazan health officials are reporting a mounting death toll on the Palestinian side, including a baby which reportedly died as a result of an Israeli air strike.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad spokesmen have declared they are engaged in a joint operation against Israel.
As of 1am local time the IDF announced that rockets fired from Gaza are continuing, and that Israeli civilian homes have been confirmed hit.
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Palestinian militants launched over 90 rockets into Israel within the span of merely an hour early Saturday following following a tit-for-tat series of escalations that began with Gaza border incidents on Friday, including two Palestinians shot by Israeli soldiers during protests.
According to early reports, there have been no casualties in Israel following the intense volley, and on the Gaza side one person has died as a result of Israeli Air Force retaliatory strikes with three others wounded, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
There are some unconfirmed reports of injuries on the Israeli side, including injuries of Israeli civilians after a rocket reportedly impacted a school in a town called Kiryat Gat. The IDF confirmed its Iron Dome defensive measures were active throughout the morning.
#Breaking: Just in - Video of a rocket from #Gaza fell into a field in the region of #Ashkelon, destroying partially a side of a building, where one male was critically injured after debris hit him from the explosion in #Israel. pic.twitter.com/7Ta9BuHZKp— Sotiri Dimpinoudis ❁ (@sotiridi) May 4, 2019
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched a massive counterattack on Gaza targeting Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the IDF Spokesperson confirmed.
#Update: Children in #Gaza and in #Israel are developing PTSD symptoms, This video shows a beach with locals and children, in #Ashkelon early this morning flying rockets and mortar shells over them and the iron dome intercepting them, pic.twitter.com/e34zxJXmKt— Sotiri Dimpinoudis ❁ (@sotiridi) May 4, 2019
From Friday into early Saturday, a total of five Palestinians have been killed according to Gaza sources, which includes a Friday Israeli airstrike on a Hamas command post in central Gaza.
Air-raid sirens have continued throughout the day across southern and central Israel after a barrage of Hamas rockets reached as far as Bet Shemesh, a central Israeli city near Jerusalem.
This is Gaza today. May 4, 2019. pic.twitter.com/d5qpR09HiH— Muhammad Smiry 🇵🇸 (@MuhammadSmiry) May 4, 2019
🔺2:00pm - In response to the Gaza rocket fire, IDF begins aerial strikes of Hamas & Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets, including:— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 4, 2019
• 4 Hamas training & weapons manufacturing compounds.
• Hamas naval compound.
• PIJ targets.
• PIJ-Hamas joint military compound.
The IDF later updated their tally of the number of rockets fired from the strip to over 150 launched over the course of Saturday morning.
Meanwhile a UN envoy alongside Egypt have reportedly been attempting to mediate toward a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in talks, according to diplomats in the region.