In a concerning escalation of violence, Hamas unleashed a heavy barrage of rockets towards central and southern Israel on Wednesday evening, leaving six people lightly wounded. This follows a period of relative calm after fewer missiles were fired from Gaza in preceding days.
Cities such as Rishon Lezion, Petah Tikva, Bat Yam, Rosh Ha’ayin, and Ashdod were all hit, triggering air raid sirens around 9:30 p.m. One rocket struck a home in Rishon Lezion, causing injuries to three individuals: a woman in her 40s suffered minor injuries from glass shards, an 80-year-old man was wounded by shrapnel, and a 75-year-old woman was treated for smoke inhalation. The affected home sustained significant damage.
Additionally, in Kfar Sirkin near Petah Tikva, a 13-year-old boy suffered minor blast injuries due to a nearby rocket impact. A woman in her 20s and a 14-year-old girl were injured while rushing to seek shelter.
Amidst these attacks, the Israeli military confirmed the interception of a surface-to-air missile launched from Lebanon at an Israeli military drone. Fortunately, the drone emerged unscathed. In response, Israeli forces targeted the source of the missile in southern Lebanon and struck Hezbollah posts following previous rocket attacks from the region.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, stated that airstrikes in Gaza were ongoing to enhance the army’s position for an imminent ground offensive. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed these preparations, stating that Israel is gearing up for a ground incursion. He emphasized the unanimous agreement among the war cabinet members and the IDF chief of staff regarding the timing of the ground operation.
Meanwhile, approximately 200,000 people in Israel have been displaced due to the conflict. Minister Benny Gantz informed residents of Zikim and Netiv Ha’asara, communities near the Gaza border, that they might remain in state-funded hotels for another three months before being relocated to alternative housing. Gantz pledged to fully rebuild the southern communities devastated by Hamas’s attacks and even expressed his intention to relocate there himself in the future.
On an international level, the World Health Organization (WHO) called on Hamas to provide proof of life for the 222 hostages it allegedly holds and urged their release on humanitarian and health grounds. The WHO emphasized the urgent need for medical access to assess the hostages’ health conditions, particularly given the prevalence of pre-existing health issues among them. Hamas has yet to respond to these calls.
The situation remains highly volatile, with Israel resolved to continue its military campaign against Hamas until the group is eradicated from Gaza. Despite the ongoing conflict, Israel has not explicitly ruled out the possibility of a humanitarian pause, leaving the region in a state of tense anticipation.