Skip to main content

Over 200 rockets hit Israel, 20 Palestinians killed in Gaza escalation

Over 200 rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza on Wednesday, and 20 people were killed in the Gaza Strip after Israeli airstrikes as Egypt tries to broker a ceasefire.
A plume of smoke rises above buildings during an Israeli strike on Khan Yunis, on May 10, 2023. Israel announced it was targeting rocket launch sites of the militant group Islamic Jihad. Gaza's health ministry said five people were killed, a day after Israeli strikes on the Palestinian territory left 15 dead. (Photo by SAID KHATIB / AFP) (Photo by SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images)

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians continue to increase as salvos of rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza since Wednesday afternoon, with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) striking dozens of rocket launchers and positions of the Islamic Jihad across the Strip.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said 20 people were killed in the Gaza Strip in the latest IDF attacks and at least 37 people were injured. Israeli authorities reported that 11 people were injured so far from the rockets either when running to a shelter or from trauma. 

What do we know: Alert sirens warning of rocket fire have been sounding in Israeli communities near the Gaza border as well as in several cities in the center of the country, including Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ramat Gan and Giv’atayim, since 1:30 p.m. Israel time. The municipalities of Tel Aviv, Rishon Letzion and other cities have asked parents to come and get their children from kindergartens and daycare centers and take them home. 

By late Wednesday afternoon, the IDF estimated the number of rockets launched toward Gaza on Wednesday afternoon to be 270, with 150 of them exploding in the Strip’s skies or falling into the sea, failing to cross the border into Israel’s airspace. In parallel, an IDF spokesperson said that air force jets and helicopters had struck some 40 rocket launchers and Islamic Jihad positions across the Strip. 

Gaza factions announced on Wednesday a revenge operation in response to the Israeli airstrikes. The groups said they fired hundreds of rockets at Tel Aviv and other parts of Israel as part of the operation, according to the Hamas-affiliated Safa news agency. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other like-minded groups typically refer to themselves as “the resistance.”

Hamas spokesman Abdul Latif al-Qanoua released Wednesday afternoon a statement saying the strikes from Gaza are part of the "unified resistance" to Israel. 

Still, even if Hamas supports the operation against Israel, it is not clear if it is taking an active part in launching the rockets. An Israeli security source told Haaretz the IDF had not detected active participation of the Hamas group in the rocket fire launched by the Islamic Jihad group, at least not in the first phase of the attack. The Gaza Strip is controlled by Hamas, with Islamic Jihad being the second-largest Palestinian organization in the region. 

That being said, according to Haaretz, Gaza sources said that at least some of the rockets used against Israel on Wednesday were of the Ayash type often used by Hamas, suggesting that the group is involved to some degree in the current conflagration.

How it started: The latest conflagration of violence broke out early Tuesday morning when Israel targeted and killed three senior Islamic Jihad operatives who were responsible for more than 104 rockets fired at Israel the week before. At least 10 Palestinian civilians, including children, were killed in the airstrikes. 

Anticipating a strong reaction by the group, thousands of Israeli civilians including elderly from communities near the Gaza border left the area on Tuesday. Speaking on the phone with mayors of towns and villages in the south of Israel Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the expected conflagration of violence could last several days, with strong attacks by the IDF against Gaza targets.

Tensions are also increasing on the West Bank. The Palestinian Health Ministry said on Wednesday that the Israeli army fatally shot two Palestinian men during a raid in Qabatia south of Jenin. Hamas vowed revenge for their deaths, saying “the blood of our martyrs will not go wasted.”

What is next: Reuters cited an Islamic Jihad spokesperson as saying that Egypt is in contact with both Israelis and Palestinians to secure a truce in Gaza. Israeli authorities have not confirmed for the moment such contacts are taking place. 

According to Ynet, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has asked for the government to expand the Israeli area under special safety measures along the Gaza border from 40 to 80 kilometers (24 to 49 miles). Safety guidelines include, for example, prohibitions on large gatherings, the closure of public sites, natural reserves and beaches to civilian entry, and the closure of main roads to traffic. 

The involvement or not of Hamas in the firing is very significant from Israel’s point of view. After the killing of the three Islamic Jihad operatives, Israel transferred messages to Hamas, emphasizing that Operation Shield and Arrow did not target Hamas and that it was not seeking to escalate tensions with the group, only to retaliate against Islamic Jihad rocket fire from a week earlier. 

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Israel Briefing Israel Briefing

Israel Briefing

Top Israel stories in your inbox each week

Trend Reports

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (4th R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 22, 2019. (Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

From roads to routers: The future of China-Middle East connectivity

A general view shows the solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, on March 29, 2018. - On March 27, Saudi announced a deal with Japan's SoftBank to build the world's biggest solar plant. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Regulations on Middle East renewable energy industry starting to take shape

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial