Palestinian Rocket Fire Pummels Israel

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- By midmorning Wednesday, Palestinian Arabs in the Gaza Strip fired more than 60 rocket and mortar shells on southern Israel, injuring three foreign workers, two seriously, and damaging at least seven homes.

The injured men were medevac'd to Beersheva's Soroka Medical Center, where Givati Brigade commander Capt. Ziv Shilon, critically injured Monday by a roadside bomb near the Gaza border, is fighting for his life.

Paramedics treated several people for shock.  

The rocket barrage, which began at dawn, continued throughout the morning.

The IDF instructed residents within a 24-mile range of the Gaza border to remain in bomb shelters and safe rooms. Authorities closed schools in the Eshkol, Sha'ar Hanegev, and Hof Ashkelon regional councils, and Sapir College suspended classes.

An Iron Dome battery activated in the Hof Ashkelon region intercepted and destroyed seven rockets, while the IDF targeted the terror infrastructure with air strikes and artillery fire.

"In response to rocket fire, IAF aircraft targeted a rocket launching site in the northern Gaza Strip. In addition, tank shells were fired toward terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip. Hits were confirmed," the IDF Spokesman's Office said in a statement. "Over 65 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel over the past eight hours."

Overnight Tuesday, the IDF targeted rocket-launching cells in northern and southern Gaza, killing three Hamas operatives and injuring three others according to Palestinian sources.

IDF Spokesman Yoav Mordechai told reporters, "If things in the south seem bleak, I promise you it's worse in Gaza."

"Hamas is under stress. It is both a terror organization and a governing sovereign. It wants to show that it is still active in its resistance to Israel but would like to contain the violence, too."

The shelling followed Tuesday's official state visit to Gaza by a 50-member delegation from Qatar, led by Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh welcomed the delegation with an honor guard.

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