JERUSALEM (JTA) — Code Red rocket warning sirens sounded throughout southern Israeli communities near the border with Gaza as more than a dozen rockets were launched from the coastal strip at civilian communities.
The rockets were fired between 1:45 a.m. and 4 a.m. Wednesday, sending thousands of civilian residents to bomb shelters and safe rooms. At least three were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
Elementary schools and kindergartens, which are in regular session though the end of the month, opened as usual Wednesday morning.
The rockets came hours after the Israeli military fired on a vehicle belonging to a Hamas operative involved in launching arson kites and balloons from the Gaza Strip into Israel, as well as two Hamas observation posts in northern Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces said. The attacks were in response to repeated arson attacks from Gaza. Several fires were sparked in southern Israeli communities on Tuesday due to the incendiary balloons.
“The Hamas terror organization will bear the consequences for facilitating terror and instability,” the IDF said following the rocket attacks.
The IDF has begun to fire warning shots at Gaza Palestinian groups preparing to launch burning kites and balloons, and to retaliate for the arson attacks with airstrikes on Hamas targets. Gaza Palestinian groups have retaliated for the airstrikes with early morning rocket attacks on several occasions in recent days.