Israel dramatically escalated its aerial assault targeting hundreds of Hamas sites in the Gaza Strip Thursday as Palestinians reported the strikes also hit a home and a beachside cafe, raising the total number of people killed in this week's offensive to at least 85. Israel's missile defense system also once again intercepted rockets fired by Gaza militants at the country's two largest cities, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
The Israeli military said it had struck a total of some 500 targets throughout the day, focusing on underground tunnel networks and rocket launching sites. In all, the military said it has hit some 860 sites since the operation started Tuesday.
Gaza militants fired more than 140 rockets at major Israeli residential areas Thursday, Israel's military said. Rockets fired at southern Israel damaged homes, infrastructure and spread panic. Israelis rushed to bomb shelters as sirens wailed in major cities. About 5 million Israelis are in range of the Palestinian rocket attacks. No Israelis have been killed.
A rocket hit a car in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod Thursday night engulfing it in flames. Israel's emergency services said nobody was injured in the attack, reversing an earlier statement in which it said a man was hurt.