Thousands of Israeli children were ordered to stay home from school on Wednesday to keep them safe from Gaza rocket fire.
School was cancelled in the Eshkol region due to a barrage of rocket attacks in that district, making it unsafe to transport the children on the roads. Classes also were cancelled in the Sdot Negev and Hof Ashkelon districts, where rockets continued to rain down as well.
The Iron Dome anti-missile defense system is operating and working to protect the major southern cities of Be'er Sheva, Ashkelon and Ashdod. Nevertheless, two homes in the smaller districts sustained direct hits Wednesday morning, and three agricultural workers were wounded in the attacks, one seriously.
Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency medical service officials reported that a woman was injured while running to shelter during an attack. She was rushed to Barzilai Medical Center in the coastal city of Ashkelon. Another person suffered shock, and was also evacuated to hospital for treatment, MDA paramedics reported.
Gaza's ruling Hamas terrorist organization and allied terror groups battered southern Israel with more than 50 rockets and mortar shells overnight. A total of three Israeli homes have been destroyed in the barrage of fire from Gaza, and four people – two seriously – have been wounded. In addition, hundreds have been traumatized, many severely, by the attacks.
The Israeli army struck back repeatedly overnight, killing three terrorists in air strikes and wounding a number of others.
The rain of rocket fire began less than a day after a visit to Gaza by the emir of Qatar, who incited the region by commenting, “There is no clear strategy of resistance and liberation” in the absence of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Both the PA's ruling Fatah faction and its rival Hamas have boycotted such talks, with neither willing to participate in direct final status negotiations with Israel.