A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip failed to reach Israeli territory, the IDF said Sunday night, upending its earlier statement on the incident and confirming retaliatory Israeli artillery fire on a border post.
According to the IDF, Israeli tanks destroyed a Hamas lookout post in the central Strip, near the border fence, some two hours after alert sirens blared in the Israeli communities adjacent to the Strip, warning of an impending rocket.
Gadi Yarkoni, head of the Eshkol Regional Council, said in a statement that contrary to earlier reports, the projectile did not land in Israel.
The army later confirmed this, saying the rocket aimed at the Jewish state exploded inside the Gaza Strip. Earlier on Sunday night, the military had said a rocket fell in an open area in the Eshkol region of southern Israel.
Yarkoni also said the security threat was not raised as a result of the rocket attack, which coincided with the Sukkot holiday.
“We are in constant contact with security forces, and there is no change in defense instructions,” he said. “I call on all residents of Eshkol and their guests to continue enjoying the festive atmosphere and autumn.”
The would-be rocket strike was the first projectile fired from the coastal enclave in two months. While no group immediately claimed Sunday’s rocket attempt, Israel holds Hamas responsible for all fire emanating from the Strip.
Hamas, the terror group that rules Gaza, has largely refrained from firing rockets into Israel since it fought a 50-day war with Israel in 2014. Launches have often been ascribed to radical Salafist groups.
Earlier Saturday, Hamas said it had arrested four senior Islamic State members, including the group’s leader in the coastal enclave.
The attempted rocket fire comes as Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are engaged in reconciliation negotiations to see the PA resume civil control of the Gaza Strip.
Alexander Fulbright contributed to this report.