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2 rockets fired from Gaza hours after Biden announces steps toward Saudi-Israel ties

One projectile intercepted as sirens sound in Ashkelon, 2nd hits open area; none hurt; attack comes shortly after US president leaves Israel for Jeddah

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

An Iron Dome interceptor missile is seen over the southern city of Ashkelon, July 16, 2022. (Screenshot: Twitter)
An Iron Dome interceptor missile is seen over the southern city of Ashkelon, July 16, 2022. (Screenshot: Twitter)

Two rockets were launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip after midnight on Saturday, the military said.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, one of the rockets was intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system, while the other landed in an open area, causing no damage.

There was no immediate claim by any of the Gaza-based terror groups for Saturday’s rocket fire.

Incoming rocket sirens sounded in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon, sending local residents rushing to shelters.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said there were no reports of physical injuries following the rocket attack, but two people were treated for anxiety.

Authorities did not announce any change in instructions for residents.

Footage posted to social media purported to show the moment one of the rockets was intercepted by the Iron Dome.

The rocket fire came hours after US President Joe Biden departed the country, and shortly after the American leader, now in Saudi Arabia, announced an agreement that includes steps by Riyadh toward normalizing ties with Israel.

The deal will see the transfer of a pair of Red Sea islands from Egypt to Saudia Arabia, and Riyadh allowing Israeli airlines to fly over its territory on their way to the far east. It is also expected to include the Saudis allowing direct flights from Israel for Muslim pilgrims.

In 2020, the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group launched a salvo of rockets at the south as Israel was signing peace deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Biden departed from Israel earlier Friday, after a two-day trip that included meetings with Israeli leaders and a visit to East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In the past, Israel has responded with airstrikes against Hamas sites regardless of the group launching the attack. More rarely, it has directed its response at Islamic Jihad, if the terror group claimed responsibility.

The last time rockets were fired from the coastal enclave toward Israel was on June 18. That attack was thought to have been fired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in response to the deaths of three Palestinians killed in a gunfight with Israeli troops a day earlier.

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