JERUSALEM (USA Today) — Hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militants were intensifying Wednesday, with more rockets launched toward Israel and war planes carrying out airstrikes on sites in Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The Israel Air Force targeted 160 sites in Gaza since midnight Tuesday after militants from the Palestinian territory fired more than 225 rockets into southern and central Israel on Monday and Tuesday, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
On Tuesday night the militants expanded their attacks, which had been focused on southern Israel, to the center of the country. Residents of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv — Israel's two largest cities — were forced into bomb shelters at the sound of air-raid sirens.
On rocket landed near Hadera in the center-north of Israel. Israel's Iron Dome anti-rocket system intercepted two rockets in the Tel Aviv region.
Hafiz Hamad, the leader of the Islamic Jihad terror group, and five members of his family were killed in the Israeli aerial assault, code named Operation Protective Edge, the Palestinian Ma'an news agency reported.
The strikes and counter-strikes have severely disrupted life for Israelis and Palestinians on both sides of the Israel-Palestinian border, which had been relatively quiet since the ceasefire that ended an eight-day military confrontation in November 2012.
Israel ordered all summer camps and preschools within an 80 km. radius — about 50 miles — of the border shut until the rocket attacks stop. Businesses in the south have taken a beaten due to the lack of customers.
In Gaza, parents are afraid to allow their children to play outside out of concern for their safety. Bomb shelters in Gaza are scarce.
Fr. Raed Abusahlia, general director of Caritas Jerusalem, a Catholic humanitarian organization, urged both Palestinians and Israelis to consider the toll the violence is taking on their people.
"They have to stop the violence on both sides. They've experienced enough hardship, especially in Gaza. They have to stop. They have to stop. Enough!"