Residents in the Sdot Negev Regional Council took cover Saturday night as another barrage of rockets was launched from the Gaza Strip, following a direct hit on a Sderot paint factory earlier in the evening.
The two rockets in the second salvo likely landed in open territory, according to initial reports, bringing the total amount of projectiles launched at Israel Saturday night to four.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage in the latest incident.
Four people were injured in Sderot after the factory was set ablaze by the rocket. Four employees were reportedly inside the factory at the time, but managed to escape unharmed.
Emergency crews were able to bring the blaze under control.
Sderot mayor Alon Davidi said after the incident that the residents of Sderot would not be “deterred by the atrocious acts of terrorists, who fire rockets at population centers.”
“We stand firmly behind the aims of the prime minister, the defense minister and the army chief who are operating to bring the boys back home as well as a sense of normalcy to us all,” he said.
The latest series of attacks came amid an escalation of hostilities along Israel’s southern border with the Palestinian enclave as IDF troops scour the West Bank for three missing Israeli teenagers, Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gil-ad Shaar. Israel has accused Hamas of carrying out the June 12 abduction of the teens and named two Hamas men as being the masterminds.
The rocket that hit Sderot marked the first direct hit on an Israeli target since the recent escalation in rocket fire on Israel from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The rocket fire came after Israel and Gaza operatives were engaged in a series of retaliatory attacks over the past 48 hours.
Early Saturday morning, Israel planes struck Hamas military targets in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire from the Palestinian territory hours before.
Residents of the coastal enclave reported multiple explosions, and the IDF said in a statement that it targeted “two terror activity sites and a weapons manufacturing facility in the central Gaza Strip, and a weapons storage facility in the southern Gaza Strip.” The Israeli military confirmed direct hits.
On Friday evening, Israel’s Iron Dome system intercepted two rockets launched at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip following the targeted assassination by Israel of two Gaza operatives.
A total of eight rockets were fired from Gaza Friday, with the remaining six landing in open territory. No damage or injuries were reported in the attacks.
On Saturday, unverified footage posted to YouTube appeared to show the Israeli air strike on the car carrying the two terrorists Friday.
The footage shows a vehicle driving along a coastal road before being struck. Passersby remain seemingly unharmed.
Israel confirmed carrying out the targeted killing of Osama Hassumi, 29, and Mohammad Fatzih, 24, on Friday, charging that they were involved in a cell responsible for repeated rocket fire on Israel’s southern cities over the past several weeks and were planning terror attacks on Israeli civilians.
“Militants, like Hassumi and Fatzih, attacking Israel from Gaza, are not safe, do not have immunity, and will not be free to plan, plot and operate. We will continue to strike the instigators and agitators with patience, determination and precision. Gaza rocket terrorism does not pay,” said IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner on Friday.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Friday that Hamas was responsible for every attack emanating from the Gaza Strip and warned the terror group not to test Israel’s patience or determination. His warning came after a spate of rocket attacks on Israel’s southern cities and several incidents on the border with Gaza over the past week.
“We will not allow rocket fire on Israel or attempted attacks on our civilians or troops. We will hunt down those who carry out or plan [these attacks], like we did today,” said Ya’alon.
Earlier Friday, an explosive device was activated against IDF troops operating along the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported in the incident.