Israeli soldier, civilian killed as rockets pound Israel for seventh day


JERUSALEM (JTA) – An Israeli soldier and an Israeli civilian were killed in separate rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

Cpl. Yosef Partuk, 18, of the West Bank town of Emanuel, was killed by a rocket that landed in the Eshkol Regional Council, in southern Israel, on Tuesday afternoon.

In a separate rocket attack in the same area, an Israeli civilian was killed, another was seriously injured and 15 soldiers were hurt.

Five Israelis, four of them civilians, have been killed by rockets fired from Gaza in the last week.

Nineteen Gazan Palestinians were killed Tuesday, bringing the total number killed since Israel began its Operation Pillar of Defense on Nov. 14 to at least 130.

More than 140 rockets were fired at southern Israel in the seventh day since the beginning of the operation, including two aimed at Jerusalem. Some 56,000 military reservists have been called up since the beginning of the operation.

An air raid siren sounded in Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon; two rockets fell in the Gush Etzion area south of the city. Hamas claimed responsibility for the rockets aimed at Jerusalem.

Shortly before the alarm, a rocket struck a building in the Eshkol Regional Council, reportedly injuring several people. Rockets also hit a home in Netivot and damaged homes in Sderot and Beersheva.

On Tuesday evening a rocket fired from Gaza struck a building in the central Israeli city of Rishon Lezion, injuring several people.

A volley of 16 rockets was fired Tuesday toward Beersheva. One hit the road in front of a bus, damaging the bus, which the passengers had exited due to the air raid siren. A second rocket hit a house and a third hit a parked care. Nine of the 16 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement that on Tuesday, it targeted 11 terrorist squads involved in firing rockets toward Israel and planting explosive devices at the border. The IDF also bombed 30 underground rocket launchers and a hiding place for senior terror operatives that was used to store weapons and ammunition, the IDF spokesman said. Overnight, the IDF said it targeted 100 terror sites in Gaza, including underground rocket launchers, terror tunnels and ammunition storage facilities.

“The sites that were targeted were positively identified by precise intelligence over the course of several months,” the IDF statement said.

Since the beginning of the operation, the IDF has hit some 1,500 targets in Gaza. Iron Dome has intercepted 389 rocketsin the last week, including 51 on Tuesday

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Israel on Tuesday to meet with Israeli leaders and encourage a cease-fire. She also was scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority leaders, but no one from Hamas, Haaretz reported. United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon also arrived in Israel on Tuesday to meet with Israeli leaders. 

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