Rocket attack
Rocket attack Edi Israel/Flash90

Heavy and continuous rocket barrages were launched this evening (Thursday) at communities in the south of the country, including Be'er Sheva, the Bedouin settlements and the Gaza periphery.

In response, Defense Minister Benny Gantz authorized the IDF to call up another 9,000 reservists in accordance with the operational needs, after an assessment of the security situation.

The reservists are part of combat units and will be called upon to assist in Operation Guardian of the Walls. They will be stationed in the Southern Command as well as in the Central Command and the Northern Command, in place of forces that have been relocated to other missions.

A senior diplomat said tonight "We do not rule out a ground campaign" and said the issue came up in cabinet deliberations yesterday. The IDF is preparing for the option of a ground invasion and is sending combat forces to the Gaza Division.

Earlier, Chief of Staff Lt. Col. Aviv Kochavi issued a curfew order: all soldiers will remain on base and will not be allowed to leave their homes until further notice.

In addition, the Chief of Staff decided to expand the mobilization of the IDF reserves to 7,000 soldiers, some for combat and some for the Home Front Command.

Gaza terrorists on Thursday afternoon fired a barrage of rockets at the cities of Ramat Gan, Kfar Chabad, Herzliya, Givat Shmuel, Tel Aviv, and other cities in central Israel.

A minute later, rockets were fired at Lakiya, Be'er Sheva, and various Bedouin settlements in the Negev.

Just prior to the long-range rocket fire at central Israel, a heavy barrage of rockets was fired at Jewish communities near Gaza, including Nirim, Ashkelon, Nir Am, Kfar Aza, Nahal Oz, Ashdod, Sdei Eliyahu, Sderot, and others.

It is estimated that within the span of several minutes, over 100 rockets were fired from Gaza at Israeli civilian centers.

Magen David Adom (MDA) paramedics provided medical aid to four people in light and moderate condition. Among the victims is a 7-year-old boy who suffered moderate injuries to his limbs while running for shelter, in the coastal plain. He was taken by mobile ICU to Sheba Medical Center, fully conscious.

Three people suffered light injuries when a rocket fell in the Kiryat Gat area. One of the injured is a 60-year-old woman who was injured from broken glass. Another is a 40-year-old woman who suffered injuries while running for shelter. A 35-year-old woman is suffering from shock.

Earlier Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited an Iron Dome anti-missile battery located in the center of the country.

In a statement made at the site, Netanyahu said: “I am now here at an Iron Dome anti-missile battery. The soldiers here are doing exceptional work in protecting the skies of Israel as well as our citizens. It is impossible to attain 100% protection, but they are pretty close to that percentage, and we owe them a great deal for their defense of us.

“The protective actions of these Iron Dome anti-missile batteries give us the ability to launch our retaliatory attacks, and the IDF has already conducted many hundreds of such attacks on various objectives, and in the near future, we will reach the thousandth such attack. And we will continue to strike Hamas while defending our citizens,” Netanyahu said.

The Prime Minister stressed that, “It will take a little while longer, but with a large number of strikes, both defensive and attacking, we will attain our goal – that of restoring calm to the State of Israel.”

At the Iron Dome base, the Prime Minister was escorted by Brigadier-General Gilad Biran, Lieutenant-Colonel Maor Gavriel, and the commander of the anti-missile battery, Assaf Ohana.

During his tour of the base, Netanyahu discussed various issues with the operators of the Iron Dome, and listened to them describe their various tasks. Before leaving, the Prime Minister thanked them for their significant contribution to the security of Israeli citizens.

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