Even as rumors of an impending cease-fire were coming in on Tuesday and Wednesday, terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip continued to fire rockets toward central Israel.
On Wednesday morning, a house in Be'er Tuvia, near Kiryat Malachi, took a direct hit. On Tuesday, a rocket hit a residential building in Rishon Lezion, seriously damaging the top four floors; and another rocket exploded between two Palestinian villages in the West Bank just south of Jerusalem.
Rishon Lezion is located just southeast of Tel Aviv. A Fajr rocket carrying a 90-kilogram (200-pound) warhead hit a seven-floor apartment building around 6:00 p.m. Four people were lightly injured and the explosion caused massive damage. Most of the residents had moved to protected rooms when the warning siren sounded, which averted disaster.
The incident marked the third time that the warning sirens have sounded in Rishon Letzion over the past week and the first time a rocket directly hit a building in the city. In the previous incidents, one rocket hit an open area and the other was intercepted by the Iron Dome.
On Tuesday evening, the Iron Dome battery positioned in the Tel Aviv area did not launch an interceptor at the incoming Fajr rocket.
"One must remember, the [Iron Dome] does not provide hermetic protection," an Israeli military official said.
"We heard the siren and ran to the safe room in the apartment," said one of the building's residents. "Maybe 30 seconds passed and we heard a terrible boom. It was horribly scary."
"Dust, metal parts and concrete flew into the apartments," she continued. "We opened the door of the fortified room and saw that half of the apartment no longer existed. My daughter's room was gone. We quickly ran down six flights of stairs, even though everything was filled with dust. We looked back at the building and understood a great miracle had happened [that no one was killed]."
Earlier in the day, Hamas launched a missile toward Jerusalem for the second time since Operation Pillar of Defense began last week. At around 2:15 p.m. in the afternoon, warning sirens sounded in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. A rocket exploded between two Palestinian villages in the Gush Etzion area, south of Jerusalem.
Security and police forces that arrived at the scene were met with hostility by local Palestinian residents. Palestinians threw stones at the Israeli forces and one soldier was lightly injured.
The siren created a rare scene at the Western Wall. The plaza in front of the wall, normally full of worshippers and tourists, completely emptied as people scurried for safety in the Western Wall tunnels.
The southern city of Beersheba was subjected to a barrage of rockets on Tuesday. At least 22 rockets, in four main volleys, were launched from Gaza toward the city. The Iron Dome intercepted 12 of the rockets.
On Tuesday morning, three of the rockets evaded the Iron Dome and exploded in the heart of Beersheba. One hit a parking lot and another struck a traffic island, severely damaging a passing bus.
When the siren sounded, the bus driver stopped the vehicle and ordered the passengers to disembark and take cover. More than ten people, including the driver, were treated for shock.
Two other Grad rockets directly struck homes in Beersheba on Tuesday.