IDF hits targets in northern Gaza in response to rocket strike
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IDF hits targets in northern Gaza in response to rocket strike

After projectile lands on a Sderot street, Israeli tank reportedly fires on Hamas sites in Beit Hanoun

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

  • A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip strikes a road in the southern city of Sderot on October 5, 2016. (Israel Police)
    A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip strikes a road in the southern city of Sderot on October 5, 2016. (Israel Police)
  • A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip strikes a road in the southern city of Sderot on October 5, 2016. (Boaz Tzabari)
    A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip strikes a road in the southern city of Sderot on October 5, 2016. (Boaz Tzabari)

An Israeli tank fired on Hamas targets in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday in response to a rocket that landed in southern Israel earlier in the day, the army said.

According to Palestinian reports, the IDF tank struck sites in Beit Hanoun, on the northeastern corner of the coastal enclave. The army would not immediately confirm those reports to The Times of Israel.

There were no immediate reports of Palestinian injuries.

The rocket, which was fired from the Gaza Strip, struck a street in the city of Sderot — a few miles from Beit Hanoun — just before 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, police said, causing damage and sending three people to the hospital suffering from anxiety attacks.

The Islamic State-affiliated Ahfad al-Sahaba-Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis terrorist group took responsibility for the rocket launch in statements released in both Arabic and Hebrew.

“Oh you cowardly Jews: You don’t have safety in our land. [Former defense minister Moshe] Ya’alon, the failure at giving security. [Defense Minister Avigdor] Liberman to fail will be a certainty,” the Salafist group said in its statement, in poorly translated Hebrew.

The attack against Israel was apparently a response to the Strip’s Hamas rulers arresting several members of the Salafist organization, according to the group’s statement.

Though the Salafist group took responsibility for the attack, Israel has said it holds Hamas responsible for any attacks emanating from Gaza and routinely responds to such launches with strikes inside the Palestinian territory.

“We can’t go after every little group in Gaza with a couple of dozen members that goes out one night and fires a rocket,” a senior officer in the IDF’s Southern Command told reporters last month.

Ahfad al-Sahaba-Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis released a similar statement last month, after a failed attempt to launch a rocket at southern Israel on the first day of school. The group also claimed responsibility for a rocket attack that hit Sderot in August, landing between two houses in the southern Israeli city.

In Wednesday morning’s rocket attack, three people in Sderot “suffered anxiety attacks” and were treated by medical teams, but no one was physically hurt by the attack, according to the Magen David Adom medical service.

The three — including a 15-year-old girl and 60-year-old man — were taken to Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center for further care, MDA paramedics said.

The rocket alert siren was activated at approximately 10:20 a.m. and was heard in Sderot, Nir Am, Ivim and Gevim.

A few minutes later, Israel Police officers located the rocket in Sderot. The street where it landed was damaged in the attack, as were several nearby cars and homes.

Police sappers were called to the scene, and the area was closed off to pedestrians and traffic, police said.

Police sappers dig out piece of a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip that struck a road in the southern city of Sderot on October 5, 2016. (Israel Police)
Police sappers dig out piece of a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip that struck a road in the southern city of Sderot on October 5, 2016. (Israel Police)

Last month, a mortar shell was launched from the Gaza Strip and landed in a field in southern Israel, causing neither injury nor damage, the army said. The projectile hit an empty field in the Eshkol region, next to the southern Strip, according to a statement from the Israel Defense Forces.

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