Fighting began after an Israeli airstrike targeted and killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander, Bahaa Abu el-Atta. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said el-Atta was the mastermind behind many attacks against Israel and was a "ticking bomb." Islamic Jihad vowed revenge and within hours of their leader's death, fired nearly 200 rockets at Israel. Islamic Jihad is supported by Iran and has vowed to destroy Israel.
Air-raid sirens halted life in southern Israel. Schools and businesses closed and almost no one was on the roads except for military and emergency personnel. The Israeli military said its "Iron Dome" aerial defense system had intercepted "dozens" of the roughly 200 rockets launched.