JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli airstrike hit a Kassam-launching cell in Gaza, killing one terrorist and injuring three others.
The strike Wednesday evening on a launcher about to fire on southern Israel followed a full day of rocket barrages from the Gaza Strip in which at least 60 Kassam rockets and dozens of mortar shells struck homes, factories and a playground.
Two long-range Grad-type missiles struck a public area in northern Ashkelon. Homes in Kibbutz Shaar Hanegev and Sdot Negev suffered serious damage from direct hits. A rocket also struck next to a playground in Netivot. One factory in the western Negev was hit twice. Several people in those areas were treated for shock.
Two Palestinians were hurt when a rocket that did not clear the security fence at the border landed on a home in a northern Gaza town.
The retaliation followed an emergency Security Cabinet meeting Wednesday afternoon, which approved a recommendation that Israel respond to the attacks from Gaza, but when it chooses to and on a scale that it deems appropriate. During the meeting, attended by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the Cabinet declared 35 al-Qaida and Taliban organizations as terrorist organizations. All other details of the discussion are subject to a media blackout.
Israel’s Channel 1 reported Wednesday night that the Cabinet had ruled out taking back Gaza.
The al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attacks.
The border between Israel and Gaza was ordered closed Wednesday, canceling a scheduled humanitarian aid convoy of food and medicine, including five trucks from Egypt and 30 trucks from international organizations operating out of the West Bank.
Hamas said it would increase its attacks if Israel responded with attacks on Gaza targets.
"Any decision to attack the Gaza Strip will open the gates of hell and we will make you regret your stupidity with tears of blood," Hamas said in a statement.