On Wednesday evening, at least two long-range Grad rockets landed in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, one striking an apartment building. No one was killed in the attack. It was the first time the city – which is the main city in the Negev desert and 40 kilometers away from the Strip – has been hit since the Gaza war in 2009. The attack came several hours after Israeli soldiers shelled a group of Palestinians who the Israel Defense Forces said were planting explosive devices near the Gaza border, in an attempt to attack Israeli patrols. An explosive device was detonated near an army patrol working near the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip earlier in the day.
In retaliation for the attack on Beersheba, Israel's Air Force on Thursday morning carried out an air strike in northern Gaza against a rocket-firing squad and other targets. An IDF spokeswoman said it was the most extensive bombing of targets since the Gaza war. Beersheva is home to about 200,000 people. Local residents ran to shelters after warning sirens went off before the impact of the Grad missilies, while emergency services raised the alert level in southern Israel and braced for further attacks. One Grad missile hit the yard of a house, whose occupants escaped injury by hiding in a safe room.
Six mortar shells fired from Gaza had landed in southern Israel on Wednesday afternoon, the IDF said. In the past two months, more than a dozen explosive devices were laid along the security fence and were detonated targeting IDF forces, according to the IDF Spokesman's office. Two devices were uncovered by an IDF force on Tuesday in the southern Gaza Strip and detonated in a controlled explosion.