Israeli military calls up reservists on second day of Gaza rocket barrage

JERUSALEM (JTA) – The Israel Defense Forces called up a limited number of reservists following a second day of rocket attacks from Gaza on southern Israel.

The reservists — for air defense, according to the Israel Defense Forces — were summoned on Thursday, when 17 rockets were fired at Israel. Seven landed in Israel and two were intercepted by the Iron Dome system. The remainder hit Palestinian areas. Another rocket struck southern Israel after the announcement was made but caused no damage.

At least seven rockets were fired at southern Israel shortly after the Islamic Jihad terrorist group in Gaza said it would abide by the cease-fire mediated by Egypt in 2012 amid an Israeli operation to stop rocket attacks.

Four rockets were fired Thursday morning at Ashkelon and Ashdod, with two landing in open fields between the cities and one intercepted over Ashkelon by Iron Dome. Ashdod closed schools without rocket-proof shelters following attacks.

Hours later, Israel’s Air Force retaliated by targeting seven “terror sites” in the southern Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would continue to respond militarily to the attacks.

“Our policy in the South is clear — we attack anyone who attempts to hurt us and we will react with a powerful force,” Netanyahu said Thursday morning. “I want to clarify that whoever tries to hurt our Purim celebrations, we will respond with force.” Purim begins on Saturday evening.

Israel’s security Cabinet met Thursday morning to discuss the escalation in attacks from Gaza.

The previous evening, Islamic Jihad fired dozens of rockets at southern Israel, with 41 landing in Israeli territory, including five in residential neighborhoods. Iron Dome shot down at least three of the rockets. The IDF responded by hitting what it called in a statement 29 “terror locations” in Gaza with artillery fire. Israeli residents were instructed to remain within 15 seconds of a bomb shelter overnight.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attacks and urged restraint from all sides. The U.S. State Department in its condemnation of the attacks said Israel has a right to defend itself.

Wednesday’s attack was the largest on Israel since the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense, the IDF said.

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