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Life comes to grinding halt across Israel

    Israeli tank outside the Gaza Strip
    Israeli tank outside the Gaza Strip

    Israelis living around the borders of Gaza and in the northern Negev region have become accustomed to having their lives disrupted by mortar and rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

    This week, three-quarters of the country's population found itself within missile range as Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets were launched towards Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Cities as far north as Zichron Yaakov, 100 miles from Gaza, also came under fire.

    Six thousand people at a concert by rock musician Beri Sacharoff had to leave the Sultan's Pool in Jerusalem after a salvo of rockets was launched towards the capital on Tuesday night. The next day, as Hamas launched two rockets at the southern ridge of Mount Carmel, 1,000 scouts had to end their summer camp in Opher Forest.

    As of Wednesday night, the missiles had caused only a handful of light injuries. Nearly all the rockets which would have landed on built-up areas were intercepted by the Iron Dome defence system. The IDF is reporting a more than 90 per cent success rate, with only six rockets hitting urban areas.

    Despite the effectiveness of Iron Dome, IDF Home Command has called on anyone hearing a missile warning siren to take cover. Public air-raid shelters in the south and centre of Israel have been opened and large public events near the Gaza Strip have been cancelled except those taking place in blast-proof structures.

    Israeli intelligence believes that Hamas still has a few dozen M-302 missiles that can reach targets as far as 200 km from Gaza and that it will try to launch a few of these each day.

    Civilians in Gaza have suffered in the wake of Israel's air strikes. According to various sources, around half of the 35 Palestinians killed as of Wednesday evening were civilians. Among the targets were more than 60 homes that Israel claims were being used as headquarters and weapons stores, and the homes of senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad members. Telephone calls and warning shots were made to ensure the residents left in advance.

    Israeli human rights organisation B'tselem condemned the strikes, saying: "Whether or not uninvolved civilians were hurt in the bombings, these houses are not legitimate military targets and their attack is against international humanitarian law."

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