ESCALATION: At least 70 rockets fired at Israel from Gaza. Israeli jets hit 29 targets in Gaza in response.

MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANS>> LATEST UPDATES: Israeli aircraft hit 29 targets in Gaza after rocket attack — Islamic Jihad bases targeted; State Department calls heavy barrage ‘reprehensible,’ says Israel has the right to defend itself

“The Israeli Air Force launched airstrikes in the Gaza Strip shortly after 10 p.m. on Wednesday in retaliation for a massive rocket barrage earlier in the day, the largest of its kind since 2012,” reported the Times of Israel at 5pm eastern. “Israeli planes struck 29 targets in the Strip, the army said in a statement. Palestinians said at least five strategic points were hit in the coastal enclave, primarily in areas around the cities of Khan Younis and Rafah.”

As of this hour, Haaretz is reporting at least 70 rockets have been fired from Gaza at southern Israel.

“Israeli communities near southern and northern Gaza have come under heavy rocket attack on Wednesday evening,” reports the Jerusalem Post. As of 1:30pm eastern, “the IDF said at least 30 rockets had been fired in the largest attack since 2012’s Operation Pillar of Defense. “

“Israel Radio reported that up to 55 rockets had been fired into Israel in the deluge of projectiles,” the Post noted. ” The Iron Dome rocket defense system shot down three of the rockets, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Office.  The IDF fired artillery rounds at two terror infrastructure targets in response.”

The Post added: “Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack, according to reports by Palestinian media. On Tuesday, the Israel Air Force struck an Islamic Jihad cell in southern Gaza, minutes after identifying it as being behind a mortar attack on  an IDF unit on the Gaza-Israel border….Islamic Jihad said the Israeli strike killed  three of its operatives. The IDF confirmed the aircraft’s hit on the terrorist  cell, and said that the aircraft had then returned safely to its base. The army added that it would not tolerate any attack on military forces operating along  the border. Islamic Jihad has been behind a trickle of attacks in recent days that have tested the cease-fire in place between Palestinian terrorist  groups in Gaza and Israel.”

Developing….

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