Machine gun fire from Gaza hits nearby Israeli homes in Sderot, no injuries

In separate incident, shots fired at troops on Gaza border, IDF tank responds by targeting Hamas position

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

A bullet, apparently from Gaza, that struck a home in the southern Israeli town of Sderot on May 16, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
A bullet, apparently from Gaza, that struck a home in the southern Israeli town of Sderot on May 16, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

Several homes in the Israeli city of Sderot were hit by machine gun fire, apparently fired by terrorists in the Gaza Strip, causing damage but no injuries, in one of three cross-border exchanges on Wednesday, the army said.

According to the city of Sderot, the shots were aimed at an army aircraft that had been flying overhead, and the bullets struck the homes as they fell back down to earth.

“A short while ago, shots were fired at an [Israel Defense Forces] aircraft. Rounds hit a number of homes in Sderot,” the city said in a statement.

This was one of three exchanges of fire that took place on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, shots were fired at Israeli soldiers stationed on the border, according to the army. There were no reports of injuries.

In response, an IDF tank fired on a Hamas military position in the northern Gaza Strip, the military said.

A few hours after the machine gun fire hit the Sderot homes, Israeli troops on the border were again shot at, that time near southern Gaza, the army said.

In response, an Israeli tank destroyed two Hamas observation posts in southern Gaza, according to the IDF.

The bullets that hit Sderot, a city in southern Israel that has frequently been the site of rocket attacks over the past 20 years, were large caliber rounds that were fired from a heavy machine gun by members of a terrorist group in Gaza, the IDF said.

The army would not immediately comment on whether the aircraft had also been hit in the shooting attack.

“The IDF sees this as a serious event and holds Hamas responsible for everything that occurs in the Gaza Strip,” the army said.

In one case, a bullet shattered a window. In others, the rounds smashed into external walls, according to pictures of the houses posted on social media.

One of the homes hit belonged to a former mayor Sderot, Eli Moyal, who told the Ynet news site he heard a “terrible noise” and when he ran outside to see what had happened he found bullet fragments.

Police were called to the scenes, sealing off the areas around the homes that were hit as forensic investigators were called in.

The army said it was investigating the issue in order to determine the origins of the gunfire.

The two shootings followed two days of clashes along the Gaza border.

On Monday, over 40,000 Palestinians took part in “unprecedentedly” violent riots along the security fence, which included at least one gun battle with Israeli troops, as well as attempts to infiltrate into Israeli territory and to plant improvised explosive devices along the border, the army said.

On Tuesday, approximately 4,000 people rioted along the border, throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli troops on the other side of the fence.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said 62 people were killed in the demonstrations on Monday and Tuesday, 53 of whom were later identified as members of Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

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