Rising tensions escalate into full combat – Israel is prepared for major operation in Gaza
● For the last 15 hours, thousands of Israeli civilians living in Southern Israel have been running for shelter as more than 200 rockets were launched at them from Gaza.
● More than 30 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
● Code Red sirens continue going off throughout the morning.
● A 30-year-old woman worker from Thailand was critically wounded as a result of a rocket exploding near her in the Eshkol area.
● During the night, Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon treated 23 casualties from the Gaza vicinity, who were wounded in the rocket fire.
● 7 people are still in the hospital, most of them with light wounds.
● Damage was caused to house, buildings, cars and sidewalks in direct rocket strikes on the city of Sderot.
● Residents of the Israeli cities near the Gaza border have been instructed to remain near bomb shelters as Code Red sirens continue to blare throughout the morning.
● The Home Front Command announced the cancellation of all summer day camps and other educational activities in the Gaza border communities.
● Public services will be held in a limited format and that only gatherings of up to 300 people are allowed.
● The Home Front Command has ordered all educational activities and summer camps in Netivot to be held only within protected spaces.
● The Zikim Beach is closed to visitors.
● Sapir College in Sderot has announced that on instruction of the Home Front Command, the college will be closed.
● On instructions of the Home Front Command, railroad traffic between Ashkelon and Sderot has been halted.
● The Security Cabinet is expected to meet on Thursday afternoon to discuss the crisis.
● PM Netanyahu will hold a security briefing with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, IDF chief Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman and head of the National Security Council Meir Ben Shabat in the Kirya in Tel Aviv.
● IDF source: We’ll evacuate residents of Gaza border communities if necessary.
● Senior IDF official: “Hamas has violated the agreements made after Operation Protective Edge and will pay a heavy price.”
● The IDF started backing up its aerial defense batteries, and has begun deploying more Iron Dome missile defense batteries in southern Israel to prepare for a scenario in which Gaza rockets will be aimed deeper into Israeli territory.
● Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz: Israel is approaching a military campaign in Gaza.
● In retaliation for massive barrages of rockets, the IDF targeted more than 140 Hamas terrorist positions including a cement factory used by Hamas to build terror tunnels, a maritime terror tunnel shaft and several terror sites and military compounds.
● IDF tanks seen heading towards the Gaza border.