After the Israeli Air Force struck 12 Hamas and other terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip overnight Thursday, Aug. 18, a hail of missiles hit the towns of Ashdod, Beersheba, Ashkelon and the smaller Sdot Negev, Shar Hanegev and Eshkol villages in a continuous blitz Friday, Aug. 19. Ten worshippers were injured – two seriously – when one of the six Grads aimed at Ashdod hit a synagogue. Police detonated a second in a controlled explosion. The town's population is advised to stay in sheltered spaces.
Iron Dome is in action in Ashkelon. Red alerts have sounded in Gedera, Kiryat Gath and Gan Yavne.
Since 20 heavily armed gunmen killed eight Israelis and injured 33 in a multiple terrorist attack outside Eilat in southern Israel Thursday, Israel's armed forces, police and emergency services have been on high alert and reinforced. All weekend public events were cancelled in the South.
In the attack, gunmen from Gaza crossed the unfenced border from Egyptian into southern Israel and attacked two buses, two civilian cars and a military vehicle in an unfolding, complex terrorist operation which bore the signature of the Lebanese Hizballah and possibly al Qaeda fugitives from Iraq.
Seven were located and killed by police and army special forces. Shortly after the Palestinian attack, the Israeli Air Force struck a building in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, killing the six top leaders of the Popular Resistance Committees which directed the attack along with other Palestinian groups linked to al Qaeda. Israel's overnight air strikes hit more PRC as well as Hamas installations, weapons stores and smuggling tunnels.
Israeli forces backed by helicopters dropping flares combed the 70 kilometers of borderland running south from the Gaza Strip along the Egyptian Sinai border to flush out escaped terrorists and explosives traps. The searches continue Friday. The death Thursday night of Border Police Counter-Terror Unit's Senior NCO Paskal Avrahami, 49, from Jerusalem, raised the day's toll from terrorist attacks to eight. He was killed by one of the terrorists at large who had crossed back into Sinai.
1st Sgt. Moshe Naftali, 22, from Ofra, member of the Golani unit, was killed in the multiple attacks earlier that day. The other six victims were civilians.
Egyptian forces carrying out an anti-terror operation in Sinai were beefed after the multiple attack in Israel to block further passage of terrorists from Gaza into Israel. One unit traded shots with a suicide team early Friday after Egyptian chief of staff Gen. Sami Annan paid an overnight visit to the Sinai forces.