Responding to a major upsurge of Hamas cross-border attacks from the Gaza Strip, Israel has launched its biggest military offensive since the 2008-2009 Gaza war. Of the 768 rockets striking Israel since the beginning of the year, 120 came this week alone, one of them destroying a house in the town of Sderot. Forty-four Israeli civilians have been killed by such attacks in the last decade. During the recent rocket offensive, schools and other facilities were closed and around one million residents of southern Israel were instructed to stay home or go to air-raid shelters.
The offensive, called Pillar of Defense, follows large numbers of rockets being fired by Hamas and its smaller allies over the last four days along with several cross-border raids, most notably the destruction of an Israeli jeep by an anti-tank rocket wounding four Israeli soldiers.
For the first time in four years, Israel carried out a targeted assassination, killing Ahmad Jabari, leader of Hamas’s military forces whose car exploded. Here’s a video of that event. Jabari has been involved in many terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians and also the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was freed in a prisoner exchange.