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After rocket fire, Israeli airstrikes target Hamas special forces base in Gaza

Projectile hits open area in Israeli territory, two girls lightly injured while running to bomb shelters in Ashkelon; arson balloons spark series of fires in southern Israel

Smoke and flames rise after Israeli war planes army carried out airstrikes over Gaza City on August 18, 2020 after a rocket was fired from Gaza towards Israel (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
Smoke and flames rise after Israeli war planes army carried out airstrikes over Gaza City on August 18, 2020 after a rocket was fired from Gaza towards Israel (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

Israeli war planes carried out series of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip late Tuesday night, after Palestinians fired a rocket and sent several arson balloons into Israel, sparking a series a fires, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The overnight raids targeted Hamas sites in the Gaza Strip including a military compound belonging to an elite unite of the terror group, the army said, adding that it holds Hamas responsible for all violence emanating from the Strip.

Video footage published by the Hamas-linked Gaza news site Shebab appeared to show Israeli jets firing on targets in the Strip.

The renewed airstrikes came hours after terrorists in Gaza fired a rocket toward Israeli communities north of the enclave on Tuesday night, the IDF said.

 

There were no immediate reports of impact in populated areas, indicating the projectile struck an open field.

The rocket triggered sirens in the city of Ashkelon, north of Gaza, and in the nearby community of Kibbutz Zikim, sending tens of thousands of people to bomb shelters.

Two girls were lightly injured while running to bomb shelters, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said.

A 10-year-old girl sustained an injury to one of her limbs and a 7-year-old girl injured her face and one of her limbs. “Both of them received treatment and were sent by MDA teams to Barzilai hospital for further care,” medics said.

The rocket attack was the second of the week, and came amid rising tensions between Israel and terror groups in the Gaza Strip.

View of damage to a house in the southern Israeli town of Sderot that was caused by fragments of an Iron Dome interceptor missile, which was fired to shoot down incoming rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, on August 16, 2020. (Flash90)

On Sunday, terrorists in the Strip fired two rockets at southern Israel, both of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Fragments of an Iron Dome interceptor struck outside a home in the town of Sderot, causing damage to the structure and lightly injuring a 58-year-old man.

Over the past week, terrorists in the enclave have again begun launching balloon-borne incendiary and explosive devices into southern Israel, sparking dozens of fires that caused environmental and property damage in the region.

On Tuesday, Gaza officials announced that the Strip’s sole power station had run out of fuel and would stop operating. Israel last Thursday cut off fuel transfers via the Kerem Hashalom crossing as a punitive measure following the rocket ad balloon attacks.

Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would respond to airborne arson attacks in the same manner it does rocket attacks, and warned that there could be another major flareup.

“I regret that we are also preparing, to the extent necessary, for the possibility of a round or rounds. I hope that we will not get there,” he told local leaders of Gaza-area communities.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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