It was a violent day in the Land of Israel on Wednesday, as Palestinian extremists attacked Jews in several incidents across the country.
Down south, terrorists operating out of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip fired five missiles at the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon late Wednesday night. Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system managed to intercept all five projectiles. Terrorists fired three more missiles, but they all landed inside Gaza.
Israel's Air Force responded to the attack by launching a wave of pinpoint strikes against Hamas and other terrorist targets in Gaza. Palestinian sources said five people were injured in the reprisals.
In Judea and Samaria (the so-called "West Bank"), Jewish motorists came under deadly attack.
Near Nablus (biblical Shechem), Palestinian gunmen opened fire on a Jewish vehicle, causing damage, but no casualties. In the vicinity of Hebron, Arab youth hurled stones at another Jewish motorists. A similar attack was responsible for the deaths of a Jewish father and his baby son last year.
Also south of Hebron, a Jewish vehicle was attacked with a firebomb late Wednesday evening.
Students in the southern city of Ashdod whose schools are unprotected from rockets will stay home Friday, in light of fears of continued rocket fire out of Gaza.
Officials in Ashdod made the decision late Thursday, hours after a rocket was fired for the second straight night, setting off sirens in the nearby Ashkelon region.
The school closure will affect some 3,500 kids in Ashdod, out of 54,000. Most of the unprotected schools in Ashdod sit in the ultra-Orthodox part of the city, according to Israel Radio.
Late Wednesday night, a volley or eight rockets were shot toward Ashkelon. Five of them were downed by Iron Dome anti-missile batteries, and the other three fell in open areas outside of the city.
“I really hope this isn’t the start of a new escalation, because it’s seemed the last few days that there has been an increase in fire,” Hof Ashkelon Regional Council head Yair Farjoun told Ynet after the attack. “The drizzle of the last few days can easily turn into something more violent.”
In response to the late-night barrage, the Israeli Air Force conducted airstrikes on four sites in northern Gaza, including a hidden rocket launcher, a weapons storage site and a weapons manufacturing facility. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit reported direct hits on all targets.
Palestinian medical sources said a woman and four children were injured as a result of the strikes.
An Israeli security official said Thursday that Israel would respond forcefully to any attacks, though it did not believe Hamas, which controls the Strip, was behind the firings, Reuters reported.
Southern Israeli cities in proximity to Gaza were the targets of constant rocket fire for years before Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012. Rocket fire from the Strip was reduced dramatically following the 8-day Israeli military campaign, though sporadic fire has persisted.