More than 400 rockets hit southern Israel in less than 24 hours, 1 person killed

JERUSALEM (JTA) — One person was killed and two seriously injured after a rocket fired from Gaza landed on an apartment building in southern Israel as the country remained under siege from rocket fire for a second day.

The rocket hit the upper floors of a four-story apartment in Ashkelon shortly before midnight Monday. The body and one of the injured women were discovered early Tuesday morning under the debris of a fallen wall.

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 400 rockets fired from Gaza had struck southern Israel. At least 100 were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, according to the Israel Defense Forces. The IDF has responded by hitting some 150 targets associated with the terror organizations Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as four government buildings used by Hamas for military purposes, the Israeli army said in a statement.

After a lull in rocket fire between about 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. Tuesday, rocket fire picked up again. Residents of Gaza border communities were ordered to remain in their bomb shelters and protected rooms. Residents of the cities of Beersheba, Ashkelon and Ashdod were told to stay close to their bomb shelters and protected rooms.

On Tuesday morning, an Israeli official told the local media that the government has suspended cease-fire talks being mediated by Egypt and the United Nations.

Six Palestinians reportedly have been killed in Israeli airstrikes, the Maan Palestinian news agency reported.

Six rockets have directly hit homes and buildings in Ashkelon, leaving 74 people injured, the national broadcaster Kan reported. A rocket on Tuesday morning landed in the play yard of a nursery in a kibbutz in the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council, but no children were there at the time.

The dead man was identified on Tuesday afternoon as Mahmoud Abu Asbah, 48, a Palestinian from the West Bank town of Halhul, north of Hebron. He reportedly had a work permit enabling him to be in Israel.

Israel’s Security Cabinet began a meeting late Tuesday morning that was expected to last for several hours. As of early Tuesday afternoon, the IDF had not yet begun to call up a significant number of reservists.

President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday morning visited the Gaza border community of Netivot, which has been hit by several rockets, including a direct hit on a home.

“We are all under attack, under fire whose aim is to disrupt our daily life. Your strength give us all strength,” he said during his visit. “I have said in the past and I will continue to say, the area around Gaza is the whole of Israel. When the sirens are screaming here, we hear them in our hearts in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and all over the country.

“We must give the political and military leadership the breathing room and space to lead us in this conflict. Our responsibility is for the safety of our citizens and the routine of daily life, and then the safety of our soldiers. That responsibility is uppermost in our minds now and in the future.”