ASHKELON, Israel — The rocket blasted its way through the front wall of the one-story home, leaving behind a jumble of broken plaster, glass, furniture and an overturned red walker.

It was one of about 200 fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel in the span of an hour on Tuesday afternoon. Two women were killed in Ashkelon, including Soumy Santhosh, 32, of Cochin, India, who lived and worked as a caretaker for an elderly Israeli woman in the badly damaged home.

Her 89-year-old employer was seriously hurt and hospitalized, according to the woman’s daughter, Tzipi Malach.

Later, a rocket killed another woman in the city of Rishon LeZion.

About an hour’s drive away in the densely populated Gaza Strip, 30 people were killed Tuesday, among them 10 children, according to the Palestinian health ministry, as Israel launched airstrikes on the enclave. The day’s warlike armed exchange, the worst to erupt between Israelis and Palestinians in recent years, followed a swift escalation of violence in Jerusalem on Monday after weeks of rising tensions.

Residents in Ashkelon were ordered to remain indoors for parts of the day, as periodic sirens sent many into bomb shelters.

“We fired rockets at Ashkelon following an Israeli attack and an attack on a house west of Gaza City,” a spokesman for Hamas’s military wing said Tuesday. “If Israel continues to attack, we will turn Ashkelon into hell.”

About 90 percent of the rockets

fired into Israel were intercepted by the nation’s Iron Dome defense system, the Israeli army said.

Santhosh, the mother of a 9-year-old boy, had been working in Israel for the past eight years, according to her friend Sherly Benny, 47, also of Cochin. The house hit Tuesday did not have a bomb shelter.

Benny had come to Ashkelon from the nearby city of Ashdod after the agency they worked for called Tuesday afternoon with the news.

Inside Santhosh’s room, she packed up into large plastic bags what remained of her friend’s possessions: clothes, jewelry and a small prayer book. The items would be sent back to India to Santhosh’s relatives, who had already been contacted and identified her body.

“We spoke every morning,” she said, adding that Santhosh loved cooking and tending to the beds of colorful flowers that surrounded the house.

The flowers remained untouched by the attack on Tuesday.

Hours after the rocket hit, Moshe Eliase, 60, a guard with the Ashkelon municipality, was tasked with trying to keep reporters and onlookers from lingering at the damaged house, which he said was at risk of collapse.

Eliase’s requests fell on deaf ears when Naftali Bennett, Israel’s former defense minister and current leader of the right-wing Yamina party, showed up.

A crowd pushed into the small home following Bennett, one of several Israeli politicians angling to replace Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after four deadlocked elections in two years.

Netanyahu’s critics have blamed the escalation of violence on the prime minister, who they claim is distracted by his political battles and corruption charges.

“We are here in a battle against a cruel enemy,” Bennett told reporters. “Our enemies should know that there is no ‘Block A’ or ‘Block B’ in Israel. We are all one nation.”

The politician did not speak to Benny, still hastily collecting Santhosh’s belongings in her friend’s room just steps away.

While Bennett addressed reporters outside the home, a small, impromptu protest formed.

“Only Bibi! Only Bibi!” — Netanyahu’s nickname — shouted the group of four or five men, including 28-year-old contractor Nadav Yitzhak.

“I’m feeling a lack of security,” Yitzhak said. “The government is not stable.”

Ashkelon had not faced this level of rocket fire in years, he said, while “the government and all the ministers are busy with who will be the next prime minister.” He said he just wanted Netanyahu to remain.

Later that evening, another round of sirens rang out, alerting Ashkelon to rockets fired its way. At a gas station, customers and employees huddled inside an office serving as a bomb shelter.

Liat Hayun, a 46-year-old mother of four, stood wearing slippers and holding a coffee while discussing with others Hamas’s vow to send a message to Israel that night.

“It’s not a message for us,” she said. “We’re used to it.”

She said that when her children are scared, she tells them that “what’s happening is worse in Gaza.”

“I don’t care about them,” she said of the Palestinians in Gaza. “It’s their problem living under that government.”