May 14, 2021
A Gaza man walks past a building destroyed in IDF strikes targeting Hamas infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, Friday, May 14, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)
Rocket fire on southern Israel continued Friday morning, with multiple sirens alerting residents to seek shelter as IDF aircraft targeted and destroyed several Hamas observation points in the northern and central parts of the Gaza Strip as Operation Guardian of the Walls entered its fifth day.
IDF aircraft carried out a strike on a Hamas cell that was preparing to fire anti-tank missiles at Israel at approximately 1:20 p.m. Half an hour earlier, the military reported an airstrike on a Hamas rocket launching squad that was preparing to fire at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip.
A Hamas terror squad was about to launch more rockets from Gaza into Israel.— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 14, 2021
We stopped them before they could. pic.twitter.com/d7TRrS4yxz
Earlier, the IDF reported strikes on multiple underground rocket launching locations in Gaza, as well as a drone launch position.
"The IDF continues to strike terrorist targets throughout the Gaza Strip and will continue to work as forcefully as necessary," the IDF said in a Twitter post.
Palestinian sources also reported that a government building had been targeted by Israeli strikes.
Early Friday morning, IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman described the unusually heavy strikes against Hamas and its infrastructure. At one point, 160 IDF aircraft were operating simultaneously.
Video: IDF Spokesperson's Unit
"Around 11:30 p.m. we started an integrated offensive in a number of locations. In 40 minutes, we dropped about 450 bombs on targets. We fired over 500 missiles, including 50 tank missiles," Zilberman said.
"We caused major damage to Hamas' underground system of operational tunnels — Gaza's underground city. Everyone knows that Hamas sees it as a strategic coup. They invested a lot of money in it. We struck kilometers of tunnels in the northern part of the Gaza Strip," Zilberman said.
Overnight Thursday, the IDF continued massive strikes against terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, using a combination of airstrikes and artillery fire. Residents of Sderot reported that buildings in the city were shaking from the explosions.
Palestinian news outlets described the offensive by saying "the occupation has gone crazy."
A 50-year-old woman who was injured running for shelter during a rocket alert earlier this week was pronounced dead on Friday morning. On Thursday, an 87-year-old woman was injured while running for shelter at Moshav Shtulim near Ashdod, and Magen David Adom paramedics were forced to declare her dead at the scene.
Also on Friday morning, IDF air defense personnel shot down a Hamas drone deployed toward Israeli airspace. This was the fifth drone intercepted since the start of the current escalation and the second one to be intercepted by Iron Dome.
In Ashkelon, a 57-year-old man sustained a shrapnel hit to the abdomen and was rushed to the hospital for surgery. He was listed in serious condition.
The overnight onslaught against Hamas targets came after Hamas unleashed massive rocket salvos toward southern communities, as well as firing rockets at Lod and at Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Late Thursday, three rockets were fired at northern Israel from Lebanon. No group has claimed responsibility, but local reports suggested that Hezbollah might have given tactical approval for Palestinian groups in Lebanon to fire rockets in Israel as a sign of solidarity with the population of the Gaza Strip.