Three Israelis killed, 32 injured in 100 Hamas missile attacks Monday

On Day 3 of Israel’s Gaza operation, Dec. 29, Hamas hit back hard with volleys of rockets and missiles at points closer to central Israel than ever before. The three Israelis killed were IDF career officer, Sgt. Maj. Lutfi Nasr e-Din, 38, from Daliat Hacarmel, at Nahal Oz, a woman motorist, Irit Sheetrit, 39, mother of four, who sought shelter in the Ashdod bus terminus, 30 km from Gaza; and earlier in Ashkelon, Hani al-Mahdi, 27, a construction worker from the Bedouin Negev village of Ar’ur.
debkafile‘s military sources report that Monday, Hamas had recovered sufficiently from Israel’s air offensive to bring out its new Iranian Grad rockets to expand their range up to 40 km and launch them over the heads of the hundreds of Israel tanks, armored cars and artillery piled up outside the gates of Gaza and awaiting the order to move in.
At the Nahal Oz facility, in addition to the fatality, seven soldiers were injured, one critically, by incoming Palestinian mortar fire. Hamas’ night barrage also struck Ashdod, Ofakim, Yavne (25 minutes drive from Tel Aviv), Netivot, Ashkelon, Sderot, Shear Hanegev. Ashkelon was battered day and night. The last round targeted school yards, kindergartens and bus stations. Ofakim, like Yavne, was hit for the first time by 3 missiles and suffered five injured.
Following this barrage, the Homeland Command extended the radius of schools that would not reopen Tuesday, Dec. 30, after the Hanukkah holiday from 20km to 30km. A quarter of a million Israelis are now on active missile alert around the clock.
Overnight, the Israeli air force pounded the Hamas-ruled government compound in Gaza City, hitting the prime minister’s office, and the foreign, finance and interior ministry buildings and Hamas command centers. The Palestinians report 10 people killed, raising their death toll in three days to 360. All senior Hamas officials and commanders are ensconced safely in underground bunkers with their weapons caches.
Following this barrage, the Homeland Command extended the radius of schools that would not reopen Tuesday, Dec. 30, after the Hanukkah holiday from 20km to 30km. Beersheba, Gedera and Kiryat Gat are braced for attack. A quarter of a million Israelis are now on active missile alert around the clock.
Overnight and early Tuesday, the Israeli air force pounded the Hamas-ruled government compound in Gaza City, hitting the prime minister’s office, and the foreign, finance and interior ministry buildings and Hamas command centers. The Palestinians report 10 people killed, raising their death toll in three days to 360. All senior Hamas officials and commanders are ensconced safely in underground bunkers with their arms caches.
They can only be dug out by special forces and armored units on the ground.
The crucial battle of Gaza is therefore still to come, as indicated by Israel’s deputy chief of staff Maj. Gen. Israel Harel, when he warned Monday that the hardest part of the campaign is still ahead.
Hamas tacticians pin their hopes on the overcast, rainy conditions forecast for the rest of the week to slow Israeli air attacks, delay an incursion, and further intensify their cross-border missile onslaught.
Homeland Front, police forces, 200 ambulances, 2 medical helicopters and hospitals are on alert around the clock at all targeted locations. Hospitals in central Israel are also on the ready.

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