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Another rocket barrage launched towards Tel Aviv, intercepted by defense system

English.news.cn   2012-11-19 04:27:04            

Tel Aviv, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Another barrage of rockets was launched from the Gaza Strip to Tel Aviv on Sunday evening, for the second time in 24 hours.

Two rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missiles battery, which was deployed in the region early Saturday.

Sirens went off at around 6:40 p.m. (1640 GMT) and sent the city's residents to shelters and protected spaces. Eyewitnesses reported hearing two loud sounds of explosion, apparently the two interceptions mentioned.

This is the fifth barrage of rockets launched towards the central city, which has not been in missiles range since the 1991 Gulf War with Iraq. The Hamas military wing claimed responsibility for the Fajr-5 long-range missiles' attack.

On Sunday morning, another barrage of rockets was launched towards Tel Aviv at about 10:30 a.m. (0830 GMT). Two missiles were intercepted, and shrapnel caused damage to a vehicle in Holon, southern of Tel Aviv. No injuries were reported.

The Israeli army's "Operation Pillar of Defense" entered its fifth day on Sunday, under mixed reports of an approaching ceasefire as well as speculation over a possible ground invasion into the Gaza Strip.

Four Israelis were injured Sunday afternoon after a rocket hit their vehicle. One was severely injured, two others suffered mediocre wounds, and the other person was wounded lightly.

Another person suffered moderate wounds in the southern region of Sha'ar Hanegev, after being hit by shrapnel in his face. He was evacuated in stable condition to the nearby Be'er Sheva hospital.

Overall, more than 900 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip, mainly towards southern communities including cities like Be'er Sheva, Ofakim, Dimona and others. The Iron-Dome system intercepted 302 rockets, according to the IDF.

During the weekly cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the army is prepared for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.

"We are exacting a heavy price from the Hamas and the other militant organizations, and the IDF is prepared for a significant expansion of its operation," Netanyahu said.

On Friday, the Israeli cabinet approved the drafting of 75,000 reservists and mobilized battalions towards the border with Gaza. Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF chief Benny Gantz have also hinted at a possible ground operation in the near future.

On the other hand, Egyptian and Turkish officials are trying to mediate a ceasefire agreement between the militant groups and Israel. A Lebanese news network reported Saturday that Israel would send a delegation to the truce talks, which was denied by the Israeli Prime Minister's Office.

However, the Ha'aretz website quoted official source as saying on Sunday afternoon that a delegate has been sent, but Israel " does not hold high hopes" for the talks.

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) continued to strike down over 1,000 targets across the Gaza Strip, for the fifth day in a row. After targeting caches of long-range missiles, smuggling tunnels and launch pads, the army focused on targeting senior Hamas militants and their headquarters in the past two days, as the operation escalated.

The IDF confirmed that the head of Hamas rocket-launching unit, Yehiya Bia, was killed Sunday by the IAF. The IDF spokesperson unit added that he was responsible for much of the rocket fire on Israel since the start of the operation.

More than 50 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been killed, and nearly 400 wounded, since the operation started on Wednesday with the targeted killing of Hamas military wing chief Ahmed al- Jaabari.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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