Archive for August 9, 2018

Iran, N. Korea Grow Stockpile of Ballistic Missiles Capable of Striking U.S. Troops, Allies, Israel

August 9, 2018

Iran, N. Korea continue to share missile tech, capitalizing on Obama-era sanctions loopholes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho / Getty Image

BY:

https://freebeacon.com/national-security/iran-n-korea-grow-stockpile-ballistic-missiles-capable-striking-u-s-troops-allies-israel/

Iran and North Korea are growing their stockpile of ballistic missiles, including long-range missiles capable of striking U.S. assets, American allies, and even the continental United States, according to new congressional reports that shine a light on efforts by these rogue nations to advance their military capabilities.

North Korea continues to aid Iran with its advanced ballistic missiles program in defiance of international regulations barring such activity, according to the reports, issued by the Congressional Research Service. This includes an extensive proliferation network and multiple facilities dedicated to constructing short-range, medium-range, and long-range ballistic missiles.

Iran’s missiles, many of which are modeled off North Korean technology, are advanced enough to strike targets throughout the Middle East, including Israel, stoking fears that the next regional war—which many say is imminent—could present Iran an opportunity to show off its newest missile technology.

U.S. officials familiar with the Iranian and North Korean missile programs told the Washington Free Beacon that much of the recent technological progress by these rogue nations is the result of the Obama administration’s efforts to relax international regulations on such activity as part of the landmark nuclear agreement.

In the time since that agreement was reached, Iran has taken significant steps toward building, testing, and improving its ballistic missile technology, including long-range missiles that have been tested under cover of Tehran’s space program.

“The Obama administration gutted the international prohibitions against Iran’s ballistic missile development,” one U.S. official involved in efforts aimed at rolling back Iran told the Free Beacon on background. “Then, when Iran started racing to build a more sophisticated arsenal, they had Samantha Power make some noise at the United Nations before quietly standing aside. That’s how we find ourselves where we are.”

The latest reports on Iranian and North Korean missile technology paint a startling portrait of the sheer power of both countries, which continue to exchange technology on both the missile and nuclear front.

“Iran continues to invest in developing ballistic missiles and in building an extensive network of facilities, although missile inventory information is scarce,” the latest report on Iran states.

“Iran’s short- and medium-range ballistic missile tests indicate that Iran is focused on increasing the accuracy of its missiles,” according to the report, which includes both open source and U.S. intelligence community information.

However, Iran continues to experience delays in its more sophisticated missiles, including its long-range and intercontinental ballistic missile technology, though it continues to test and refine this hardware.

“The majority of Iran’s heavy artillery rockets and ballistic missiles are tactical or short-range (less than 500 kilometers),” according to the report.

The mobile nature of Iran’s shorter-range rockets has allowed it to share this technology with its allies in the region. Shorter-range missiles employed by Iran are more than capable of striking “U.S. and allied bases in the Gulf region if moved from their operating bases, as well as targets throughout Iraq,” the report notes.

After years of testing and refining this technology, “Iran has grown increasingly self-sufficient in producing SRBMs [short-range ballistic missiles], but still probably relies on outside sources, such as North Korea, for some key components and material,” according to the report.

Iran also has developed and produced medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) estimates to reach distances of around 2,000 kilometers or more, “sufficient to strike targets throughout the Middle East.”

“Iran continues to develop, test, and build more capable and increasingly accurate MRBMs,” U.S. intelligence sources have noted. “Iran argues these missiles constitute an important deterrent and retaliatory force against U.S. and other forces in the region in the event of war.”

To support this missile program, Iran has built and underground network of facilities and missile launch sites that are protected by the country’s air defenses and technology such as Russia’s S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, which are currently believed to be operational. This would protect Iran’s missile technology from a preemptive strike.

Support for Iran’s program comes from North Korea and other rogue exporters that have skirted international sanctions and capitalized on the subsequent lifting of these sanctions by the Obama administration.

“Iran relies to some extent on others, particularly North Korea, for certain key missile components and materials in its MRBM program,” the report states. “Export controls and sanctions have made it increasingly difficult, but not impossible, for Iran to acquire the best of such items, causing Iran to try to exploit weaknesses in existing export and nonproliferation regimes, or to try to find foreign sellers willing to circumvent those laws.”

Iran’s Shahbab-3 ballistic missile, for instance, has been imported from North Korea and is based on that country’s own designs.

Tehran’s long-range and intercontinental ballistic missile technology is harder to pin down.

“Some have long believed Iran’s space launch program could mask the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with ranges in excess of 5,500 km that could threaten targets throughout Europe, and even the United States (at least 10,000 km),” according to the report.

However, it remains unclear just how much progress Tehran has made in developing working technology.

Meanwhile, “North Korea has made rapid advancements in its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs,” according to a second congressional report. “North Korea is striving to build a credible regional nuclear war fighting capability that might evade regional ballistic missile defenses.”

As the United States pursues diplomacy with North Korea, there are encouraging signs the country has made moves to dismantle some of this technology, the report notes.

Egypt said to warn Hamas: Israel will renew assassinations if fire persists

August 9, 2018

Terror group’s leaders have reportedly turned off their phones, gone underground over fears of targeted killings by Israeli military

Today, 10:08 pm

https://www.timesofisrael.com/egypt-said-to-warn-hamas-israel-will-renew-assassinations-if-fire-persists/

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh (L) and Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar attend a rally marking the 30th anniversary of the terror group’s founding in Gaza City, on December 14, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)

Egypt has warned Hamas that Israel will seek to assassinate the terror group’s leaders if rocket fire from the Gaza Strip does not cease, according to an Israeli television report on Thursday.

Egyptian intelligence cautioned Hamas that Israel could renew targeted killings if the terror group further exacerbates tensions on the Gaza Strip border, Hadashot television news reported.

Previous media reports in recent months have indicated that Israel conveyed similar threats to Gaza rulers Hamas through Egyptian channels during periods of increased violence on the border.

Separately, Israel Radio on Thursday night quoted Hamas officials as saying political and military leaders from the terrorist group have turned off their cellphones over the last day and went into hiding for fear of being assassinated.

Hamas leaders were also signaling they were not responsible for a rocket attack targeting the southern city of Beersheba earlier on Thursday, Hadashot reported, in an apparent attempt to defuse the tensions.

The reported Egyptian warning to Hamas came amid a major flare-up in tensions on the Gaza border, with over 180 rockets and mortar shells fired at southern Israel since Wednesday night.

The projectiles injured at least seven people and caused damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure throughout the region, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

In response, the Israeli Air Force struck over 150 Hamas “terror sites” in the Strip, the army said. Palestinian officials said a pregnant woman and her infant daughter were killed in the Israeli strikes, along with one Hamas fighter, who was reportedly in a car used by a rocket-launching Hamas cell that was targeted by an IDF aircraft.

A plume of smoke rises from the remains of a building west of Gaza City that was targeted by the Israeli Air Force in response to a rocket attack that hit southern Israel earlier in the day on August 9, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

On Thursday evening, the Israeli Air Force flattened a five-story building in northern Gaza that served as a headquarters for Hamas’ internal security service, the army said.

The IDF said the strike on the building in the northern Gaza Strip, which also served as a cultural center in the coastal enclave, was in response to “rocket fire by the Hamas terror group against the city of Beersheba earlier in the day.”

The military threatened that the attack was “an expression of the IDF’s intelligence and operational capabilities, which will expand and intensify as necessary.”

Eighteen Palestinians were wounded in the Israeli strike, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry. The degree of their injuries was not immediately known.

The attack on the building was one of the IDF’s first strikes on a site deep inside a city in Gaza since the 2014 war. Most of the strikes previously conducted by Israel targeted facilities outside major population centers. In addition, the Rimal neighborhood in which the building was located is one of the more upscale areas of Gaza City.

This decision was seen as an attempt by the military to show Hamas that it was prepared to step up its attacks against the terror group if rocket and mortar fire continued to strike southern Israel from the Gaza Strip.

The site where a mortar shell from the Gaza Strip hit an apartment building and cars in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, on August 9, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Minutes after the Israeli strike on the building began, incoming rocket sirens blared in the Eshkol region of southern Israel, sending thousands of residents into bomb shelters, where they had already spent much of the day in light of frequent attacks from the Gaza Strip throughout the previous two days.

A second wave of sirens were triggered shortly after the IDF confirmed that it had conducted the strike at 8:00 p.m. A third round of sirens went off an hour later.

There were no injuries or damage caused by any of those rocket attacks, Israeli officials said.

The renewed rocket attacks came amid a period of heightened tensions along the Gaza border, following months of clashes and exchanges of fire.

Earlier this week, there had been reports of intensive talks between Israel and Hamas for a long-term ceasefire.

Hamas Blackmail, Media Silence

August 9, 2018

‘There is no deterrence. Go to war now’

August 9, 2018

Former IDF chief says terror organizations like Hamas will only be deterred by threats to their existence after 180 rockets fired at Israel.

Shimon Cohen, 09/08/18 18:40
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/250303
General Uzi Dayan – Eliran Aharon

Major-General (Res.) Uzi Dayan, former deputy chief of staff, called for the restoration of Israeli deterrence in Gaza through a military operation against Hamas following the launching of 180 rockets and mortars from Gaza overnight.

“I hope there will be an operation in Gaza. This is something that needs to be done because our deterrence has been eroded to a point,” Dayan said in a conversation with Arutz Sheva.

“Even if there is a kind of ceasefire, Hamas will continue to operate below the threshold of response, to send kites and balloons, on the assumption that we will respond only with a small response, and even if it sends eighty rockets to the Gaza vicinity like yesterday, Israel will not launch an operation. This is called the loss of deterrence.

Dayan, the former head of the National Security Council, explained that a future operation that would end without Hamas being neutralized would be considered a loss for Israel. “It is important to respond strongly because Hamas must be deterred and if we want to deter it, it can only be done through a threat to [Hamas’] very existence. We need to decide whether to embark on a war in Gaza and decide whether the goal is to punish or topple Hamas.”

“Anything less than regime change is a victory for Hamas because then Hamas entered the bunkers and even if thousands of people in Gaza are killed, it will not matter to it. It will continue to be in the bunker for a week or two and then it will emerge from the ruins and declare victory. And that’s how it will show in the world that Israel did not succeed in eliminating Hamas. ”

Dayan estimates that without the support of Israeli public opinion, the IDF would not launch an operation against Hamas. “Why do we recoil? Because of the price to Israel. We fear losses. The main problem is Israeli public opinion. Israel is not going to begin a war that would result in casualties unless Israeli public opinion understands that there is no choice but to go to war.”

“Public opinion day is not like that. In the Gaza vicinity they say they hope the quiet will return, they do not support an operation in Gaza,” he said. “The IDF needs to present more aggressive plans that include the destruction of Hamas, whether by eliminating the leadership, no matter whether it is a political leadership or military leadership. or by making it leave the Gaza Strip, just as we removed the PLO from Lebanon.”

“And if we are determined to harm the leadership of Hamas, it means destroying governmental targets and houses belonging to leading families in Hamas. In this situation, some punishment will indeed be achieved, but there will not be such a deterrent that the masses in Gaza will say, ‘If this is the result then we have to stop shooting.’ A terrorist organization is deterred only by a threat to its very existence. This does not mean conquering all of Gaza but it would entail a ground invasion.”

After Beersheba hit by rocket, IDF conducts new strikes in northern Gaza 

August 9, 2018

Source: After Beersheba hit by rocket, IDF conducts new strikes in northern Gaza | The Times of Israel

As high-level security cabinet convenes to discuss security situation in south, Palestinian media reports Israeli jets targeting sites near Gaza City

A picture taken on August 8, 2018 in Gaza City shows smoke plumes rising following an Israeli air strike. (AFP/MAHMUD HAMS)

A picture taken on August 8, 2018 in Gaza City shows smoke plumes rising following an Israeli air strike. (AFP/MAHMUD HAMS)

The Israeli Air Force launched a renewed offensive against targets in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian media reported on Thursday evening, hours after a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave struck just outside the southern city of Beersheba.

The Israeli military would not immediately confirm the raids, apparently in accordance with army protocol to wait until the planes involved have all returned to base.

According to the Hamas-affiliated Shehab news outlet, the target of the strike was a facility west of Gaza City. There were no immediate reports of Palestinian injuries.

The reported airstrikes came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the high-level security cabinet on Thursday evening to discuss the volatile security situation in the south and decide on a course of action.

It also came hours after the rocket hit an open field north of Beersheba, setting off sirens in the southern city for the first time since the 2014 Gaza war and rupturing a purported ceasefire that lasted approximately two hours.

A police officer inspects a crater caused by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip that struck an open field north of the city of Beersheba on August 9, 2018. (Israel Police)

The Grad rocket caused no injuries or damage. Police said sappers were called to the scene to collect and remove the debris.

No Palestinian terrorist group immediately took responsibility for the attack.

Palestinian media reported Israeli artillery strikes against terrorist groups’ positions in the Gaza Strip around the same time as the attack, though it was not immediately clear if these raids were related to the rocket launch.

The attack against Beersheba marked a significant increase in the level of violence from the Gaza Strip. Terrorist groups in Gaza have launched over 180 rockets and mortar shells at southern Israel since Wednesday evening; however, these have been mainly directed at communities directly adjacent to the coastal enclave. Beersheba is located some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Gaza.

Sirens also sounded in the communities of Omer and Lakiya, just outside the city.

Police display the remains of a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip that struck an open field north of the city of Beersheba on August 9, 2018. (Israel Police)

A July 12 picture of the house in the Nahal Beka neighborhood in Beersheba that was directly hit by a rocket on the fourth day of Operation Protective Edge, on the night of July 11, 2014. (Flash90)

That rocket launch came some three hours after terror groups in the Strip declared the current round of violence to be over and two hours after the latest mortar shell had been fired.

“The current round in Gaza has ended. The resistance responded to the enemy’s crimes in Gaza. The continuation of calm in Gaza depends on [Israel’s] behavior,” said an official from a joint command center for a number of Palestinian terrorist groups, notably the Gaza-ruling Hamas, earlier Thursday.

A source in the Hamas terrorist group confirmed the cessation to AFP.

On Tuesday, Hamas had vowed to avenge the deaths of two of its members killed by IDF tank fire after the army mistakenly thought a Hamas military exercise had been a cross-border attack. On Wednesday afternoon, the military warned that it was anticipating a revenge attack by Hamas.

Shortly after the cessation announcement was made at noon, terrorist groups in the Strip launched two fresh attacks, which triggered sirens in the area adjacent to Gaza but appeared to have hit open fields, causing neither injury nor damage.

The site where a mortar shell from the Gaza Strip hit an apartment building and cars in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, August 9, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Throughout Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Gaza terror groups fired over 180 rockets and mortar shells at southern Israel, injuring at least seven people and causing damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure throughout the region, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

In response, the Israeli Air Force struck over 150 Hamas “terror sites” in the Strip, the army said. Palestinian officials said a pregnant woman and her infant daughter were killed in the Israeli strikes, along with one Hamas fighter, who was reportedly in a car used by a rocket-launching Hamas cell that was targeted by an IDF aircraft.

A picture taken on August 8, 2018 in Gaza City shows a smoke plume rising following an Israeli air strike. (AFP/ MAHMUD HAMS)

On Thursday morning, Israeli fighter jets bombed two Hamas fighting tunnels along the central Gaza coast, as well as a tunnel opening in the northern Strip and a military facility east of the southern city of Rafah, the army said.

“The wide-reaching attacks that the IDF has conducted caused damage and destruction to some 150 military and strategic targets belonging to the Hamas terror organization, which represent a significant blow to Hamas,” the army said in a statement.

In addition, an IDF aircraft also targeted a terrorist cell launching mortar shells at southern Israel on Thursday morning. The military later released video footage of the airstrike.

The army warned the terror group that it will “bear the consequences for its terrorist activities against the citizens of Israel.”

So far, the military has focused on targeting Hamas infrastructure while largely avoiding casualties, apparently in an effort to prevent further escalation of violence.

A member of the Hamas military police walks through rubble at a site that was hit by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City on August 9, 2018. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD HAMS)

However, senior Israeli officials indicated that the country was prepared for a wider confrontation with Hamas.

“Whatever is needed to protect our citizens and our soldiers will be done, no matter what the price will be in Gaza,” Housing Minister Yoav Gallant, who serves on the security cabinet, said Thursday.

“Let’s hope for peace, and let’s be ready for war,” he added.

Earlier in the morning, a senior IDF officer warned that Israel was “rapidly nearing a confrontation” with Hamas in Gaza.

“Hamas is making serious mistakes, and we may have to make it clear after four years that this path doesn’t yield any results for it and isn’t worth it,” he said, referring to the time elapsed since the 2014 Gaza war.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (2nd left) meet with top security officials at IDF military’s headquarters in Tel Aviv, early Thursday, August 9, 2018. (Defense Ministry)

In the hours before the security cabinet meeting, Netanyahu held security consultations with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, the head of the Shin Bet security service Nadav Argaman, and National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv.

The military was deploying additional Iron Dome batteries in the region in preparation for Hamas possibly increasing the range of its targets. During past wars rockets have reached as far as Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Beersheba.

The site where a mortar shell from the Gaza Strip hit an apartment building and cars in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, on August 9, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A large number of additional forces were also deployed to the Gaza area. However, no reservist units have been called up as of Thursday morning, the army spokesperson said.

The renewed rocket attacks came amid a period of heightened tensions along the Gaza border, following months of clashes and exchanges of fire.

Earlier this week, there had been reports of intensive talks between Israel and Hamas for a long-term ceasefire.

Raphael Ahren and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

War is on ? live updates.

August 9, 2018

[21:51] Security cabinet instructs IDF to continue acting forcefully in Gaza

Israel’s security cabinet instructed the IDF to continue to act with force after its meeting at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv on Thursday evening.

“The cabinet has instructed the IDF to continue to act with force against perpetrators of terror,” a brief cabinet statement said.

[21:12] Sirens sound in Gaza border community

Further rocket sirens sounded in Israeli communities in the Eshkol Regional Council near the Gaza border on Thursday evening.

[18:34] Security Cabinet meeting underway

An emergency meeting of the Security Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is currently underway at the IDF and Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv.

[18:28] Sirens sound in Gaza border communities

Rocket sirens were activated in multiple Gaza border communities on Thursday evening.

Sirens were heard in Nir Oz, Nirim, Kissufim and Ein HaShlosha.

[18:00] Reports: Israel carrying out airstrikes in Gaza Strip

Israeli jets have carried out further airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, according to initial Palestinian reports.

Airstrikes have been reported in areas to the west of Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip.

https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Live-updates-Flareup-in-the-south-564419

Residents of rocket-hit town describe scramble to reach safety of bomb shelters

August 9, 2018

‘You have to choose which of your children you save,’ says a mother of 7 in the southern town of Sderot


Illustrative. Children are seen in a bomb shelter of an apartment building in Ashkelon, southern Israel, on the third day of Operation Protective Edge, July 10, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

By TOI staff August 9, 2018

Source Link: Residents of rocket-hit town describe scramble to reach safety of bomb shelters

{No one should have to live like this. – LS}

Residents of the southern town of Sderot described Thursday the desperate dash to safety as 150 rockets, fired overnight from the Gaza Strip rained down on southern Israel, including one barrage that slammed into the city injuring several people.

There are no more than 15 seconds from the moment the rocket warning siren sounds until a projectile impacts on the city, during which residents have to get themselves — and their families — into bomb shelters or reinforced rooms in their homes.

Volleys of rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israeli communities from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday night and into Thursday prompting the Israeli Air Force to bomb at least 12 Hamas positions across the Gaza Strip, the military said.

Sderot resident Etti Kramer told Hadashot TV news how she and her husband dashed to get their seven children into their family’s reinforced room as they heard explosions around them.

“I ran and grabbed the baby,” she said. “The rest of the children ran [to the reinforced room] but didn’t arrive in time. We started to hear explosions and we continued getting the children into the reinforced room. You have to choose which of your children you save. I grabbed the baby and the two-year old and ran to the shelter.”

Another resident, Yossi Lok, recounted how his neighbor was injured by a rocket which their apartment building.

Lok said he had retreated to his reinforced room after the rocket siren alert when off.

“I heard a huge explosion and saw a flash of fire,” he said. “The neighbor cried out that he’d been hit. I came downstairs and saw him really badly hurt, covered in blood. His home was on fire because his gas canister had been hit.”

Residents of the southern town of Sderot described Thursday the desperate dash to safety as 150 rockets, fired overnight from the Gaza Strip rained down on southern Israel, including one barrage that slammed into the city injuring several people.

There are no more than 15 seconds from the moment the rocket warning siren sounds until a projectile impacts on the city, during which residents have to get themselves — and their families — into bomb shelters or reinforced rooms in their homes.

Volleys of rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israeli communities from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday night and into Thursday prompting the Israeli Air Force to bomb at least 12 Hamas positions across the Gaza Strip, the military said.

Sderot resident Etti Kramer told Hadashot TV news how she and her husband dashed to get their seven children into their family’s reinforced room as they heard explosions around them.

“I ran and grabbed the baby,” she said. “The rest of the children ran [to the reinforced room] but didn’t arrive in time. We started to hear explosions and we continued getting the children into the reinforced room. You have to choose which of your children you save. I grabbed the baby and the two-year old and ran to the shelter.”

Another resident, Yossi Lok, recounted how his neighbor was injured by a rocket which their apartment building.

Lok said he had retreated to his reinforced room after the rocket siren alert when off.

“I heard a huge explosion and saw a flash of fire,” he said. “The neighbor cried out that he’d been hit. I came downstairs and saw him really badly hurt, covered in blood. His home was on fire because his gas canister had been hit.”

“We were afraid that there would be more explosions,” he said. “We all got away from there.”

Lok said his home was also hit, a rocket landing on his roof.

“It was lucky there were no residents in the unit,” he said.

“We were with the kids,” resident Asher Pizam told Hadashot. “There was hysteria and pandemonium. We heard a whistle and a hit after several sirens. There was a lot of stress and panic, especially with the children…We hope the government does all it can so we have quiet here.”

In video shared on social media, dozens of parents and children in a Sderot playground could be seen running for bomb shelters as a rocket exploded in the city sending smoke billowing into the air.

One mother can be heard desperately seeking her son, while at the same time trying to calm a young girl by assuring her that there would no more rockets. Children and parents crammed into overcrowded shelters, with some crouching on the ground outside, as they tried to find safety.

Hanita Kohanik, a resident of the city which has suffered rocket fire from Gaza since 2001, spoke to the Hebrew-language Ynet website about the traumatic day-to-day life in the south.

“It is terrible,” Kohanik said. “There is nothing more I can say. It isn’t easy. We are a family of four and a dog, which gets more confused that we do.”

“As far as we are concerned each time the security situation deteriorates — the anxieties resurface,” she continued

Her son, she said, suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, and doesn’t leave home.

“The intermittent and sporadic fire are a daily war,” Kohanik said.

One rocket — or possibly shrapnel from an Iron Dome interceptor — damaged a home in Sderot late Wednesday night, police said. At least two rockets struck the city earlier in the day, injuring three people. Two more were injured in attacks Thursday morning. At least eight others were treated for panic attacks, including two pregnant women who went into labor.

Wave after wave of rocket attacks set off sirens throughout the night in the Hof Ashkelon, Sha’ar Hanegev, Sdot Negev and Eshkol regions outside Gaza, sending thousands of Israelis into bomb shelters, where many bedded down with their families.

The rocket attacks came amid a period of heightened tensions along the Gaza border, following months of clashes and exchanges of fire. On Tuesday, Hamas vowed to avenge the deaths of two of its members killed by IDF tank fire after the army mistakenly thought a military exercise had been a cross-border attack.

At least 11 rockets or mortar shells were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, the army said.

Hamas claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attacks, saying it was avenging the deaths of the two operatives killed the day before.

The United Nations condemned the Hamas rocket fire.

One Palestinian man was reportedly killed in the strike, 30-year-old Ali al-Ghandour was killed, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.

In addition to al-Ghandour, at least six other Palestinians were injured in the Gaza Strip as a result of the IDF strikes, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

The Israeli military said the terror group, with which it was fought three wars in the past decade, would bear the consequences of any further violence from the Gaza Strip.

Residents of southern Israel were told to remain close to bomb shelters Thursday in case of additional rockets or mortar shells from Gaza.

Wednesday’s rocket fire represented a major uptick in tensions along the border, amid intensive talks between Israel and Hamas for a long-term ceasefire.

Such an agreement is meant to end not only rocket launches and shootings from Gaza but also the regular incendiary kite and balloon attacks from the Palestinian enclave that have burned large swaths of land in southern Israel and caused millions of shekels of damage.

Throughout Wednesday, at least 11 fires were sparked in southern Israel by airborne arson devices launched from the Gaza Strip. Israeli firefighters extinguished all of them, according to a spokesperson for Fire and Rescue Services.

Adam Rasgon and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.