Skip to main content

Israel fires on 29 'terror sites' after rockets from Gaza hit populated areas

By Michael Martinez. Talal Abu Rahma and Kareem Khadder, CNN
updated 1:44 PM EDT, Wed March 12, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Israel says 41 rockets land, with five hitting towns
  • Al-Quds Brigade in Gaza calls the rocket fire operation 'Breaking the Silence'
  • Israeli foreign minister advocates "the full occupation of the whole of Gaza"
  • A militant wing of Islamic Jihad in Gaza claimed responsibility for the rocket fire

(CNN) -- Israel responded with heavy fire after five rockets from Gaza landed Wednesday in populated areas of southern Israel, marking "the most substantial attack" in two years against the country, the Israeli military said.

The military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, called the Al-Quds Brigade, claimed responsibility for firing dozens of missiles on what it called "Israeli settlements."

In response, Israel launched airstrikes on three areas in Gaza -- Rafah, Khan Younis and Jabalia -- that are believed to belong to Islamic Jihad, according to security sources in Gaza. A Hamas spokesman texted CNN to say they counted six airstrikes, but claimed they were against bases that were empty.

In all, the Israeli military targeted "29 terror sites" in Gaza, the military said on its Twitter page.

"Direct hits were confirmed," the military tweeted.

"In today's attack, 41 rockets struck in Israel, five hit populated areas and three were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system," the military said in another statement. "This is the most substantial rocket attack from the Gaza Strip since Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012."

Islamic Jihad and Hamas, which is the Palestinian movement running Gaza, evacuated their military and civilian institutions on expectation of Israeli reprisals, the security sources in Gaza said.

Israel intercepts ship with weapons headed to Gaza

In the wake of the attack, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told Israeli army radio that "the position of my party Israel Beitanyu is that we support the full occupation of the whole of Gaza in any possible future action."

Liberman opposed a response short of full occupation. "I am against a limited operation," he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was later asked for his reaction to Liberman's comments at a joint news conference with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron Wednesday evening in Jerusalem.

"If it is not quiet in southern Israel, it will be very noisy in Gaza," Netanyahu said in Hebrew.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called upon Israel to stop the "military escalation on the besieged Gaza Strip, considering that this escalation will put the isolated residents in the danger of the war and destruction," presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said through the official Wafa news agency.

"The Gaza Strip is constantly being targeted by Israeli airstrikes that targeted many areas," Rudeineh said.

Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV flashed a banner stating: "The occupation bares the full responsibility regarding this wave of aggression and the ongoing escalation."

Abu Ahmad, spokesman for the Al-Quds Brigades, said the rocket fire came "after a long series of violations to the truce with the Palestinian resistance since November 2012."

"This operation, dubbed 'Breaking the Silence,' comes as a response to the ongoing and continued Zionist Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza," Ahmad said.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon ordered a halt to the shipment of goods to Gaza through a crossing on the Gaza-Israel-Egypt border until security assessments are made, the military said in statement.

However, another crossing will be open for humanitarian movements, the military said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the multiple rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel and urged maximum restraint by all parties to prevent an escalation of violence and destabilization to the region, a spokesman said.

Israeli Apache helicopters flew over Gaza City on Wednesday after several rockets were reportedly fired from the Palestinian territory at the Israeli town of Sderot, officials said.

The Al-Quds Brigade claimed responsibility on its website for firing a total of 34 rockets and 14 mortar rounds at "Zionist targets."

READ: Israel says it regrets killing of Palestinian judge from Jordan

READ: Israel approves permits for new settlements in East Jerusalem

READ: What else is on the minds of Israelis in 2014?

CNN's Talal Abu Rahma in Gaza, Kareem Khadder in Jerusalem, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Michael Schwarz contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
A picture taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer.
The worst ebola outbreak in history spreads out of control in West Africa. CNN's Michael Holmes reports.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
updated 2:08 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT