An Israeli man enters a damaged house after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza Strip hit a community in southern Israel, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012. Rockets and mortars from Gaza have pummeled southern Israel, drawing Israeli airstrikes that killed a Palestinian militant. The Israeli military said 60 rockets and mortars were fired by early morning Wednesday, following a volley the night before and that Israeli aircraft struck Gaza three times. (AP Photo/ Tsafrir Abayov)
JERUSALEM (AP) — Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip fired dozens of rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel on Wednesday in the heaviest bombardment on the area in months, drawing ominous Israeli threats of retaliation and dangers of escalation.
The violence came a day after a landmark visit to Gaza by the emir of Qatar. Israeli officials suggested the visit, the first by a head of state to the Hamas-ruled territory, emboldened the militant group.
The rocket fire began shortly after the emir left Gaza late Tuesday and continued through the night. Israeli officials said more than 80 projectiles were fired, and Hamas claimed responsibility for many of the attacks.
Israel responded with a series of airstrikes on rocket launchers, killing two Palestinian militants, according to Gaza medical officials. Two other Palestinians were killed Tuesday.
Three Thai laborers working on an Israeli farm were wounded, two seriously, when a rocket hit a chicken coop. Other rockets badly damaged five houses and broke car windows. Schools in the area were closed.
Many people spent the day indoors, while others stayed in close proximity to the makeshift cement shelters found in the streets of southern Israeli towns. In one farming Login to read more