Israel’s Iron Dome system shot down two rockets fired from Gaza in the direction of the southern town of Netivot early Thursday morning, bringing the total number of rockets fired overnight Wednesday-Thursday to nine.
Four rockets fired early Thursday morning landed in open terrain. Earlier, three rockets set off warning sirens in the Sdot Negev Regional Council. All three landed in open terrain, causing no injuries or damage.
Earlier Thursday, Israeli jets carried out 15 precision strikes in the Gaza Strip, in response to rocket fire on Israeli cities throughout Wednesday and into Thursday. At least 10 Palestinians were injured, according to reports.
The IDF confirmed the strikes in a statement saying Hamas targets were hit, “including concealed rocket launchers, weapon storage facilities and terror activity sites.”
On Wednesday night, three rockets fired from Gaza exploded near residential buildings in the southern city of Sderot, causing damage to the buildings and to several vehicles as well as cutting off power to several streets in the city, officials said.
Two of the rockets hit residential buildings while a third fell against a reinforced shelter inside the city but did not cause damage.
There were no reports of casualties.
Two other rockets fired earlier fell in open fields outside the city, security officials said.
Over 20 rockets were fired from Gaza throughout Wednesday, repeatedly setting off warning sirens across the Gaza periphery.
On Wednesday evening Israeli jets struck in the Gaza Strip, hitting a “launching site,” the army said.
The Gaza-Israel border has seen a sharp military escalation in recent days, with Hamas claiming responsibility for several rocket attacks and the Israeli Air Force striking numerous targets in response to the salvos.
The sharp increase in violence in the south has come as tensions flare in the West Bank and inside Israel following the killing of three Israeli teenagers on June 12, the discovery of their bodies on June 30, and the suspected revenge killing of an Arab teen in East Jerusalem on July 2.
Israel’s leaders have blamed Hamas for the three teens’ murders. The two suspected kidnappers, Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme — still at large — are known members of Hamas in Hebron.
Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal has denied his movement’s involvement in the killing, and tried via the Turkish prime minister to dissuade Israel from launching a massive strike on the Gaza Strip, Sky News Arabia reported on Wednesday.
Unnamed sources told the British channel that Mashaal has attempted to convey a message to Israel through the Turks saying that Hamas is uninterested in escalation, and continues to adhere to a ceasefire agreement reached with Israel following Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012. Mashaal also said that “Hamas had no involvement or knowledge” of the teens’ kidnapping and killing.
Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gil-ad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, were laid to rest on Tuesday.