Warnings sirens wailed throughout numerous Gaza border communities Saturday night amid escalating violence between Israel and the Palestinians in the coastal Strip.
In the fourth warning signal of the night, residents of the southern cities of Ashkelon and Sderot were sent running to bomb shelters shortly after 3 a.m. Moments earlier, similar signals were heard in the Sha’ar Hanegev and Hof Ashkelon regions.
The IDF said it was investigating whether missiles has been fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel and if any had caused damage or injuries, or if they were false signals.
Earlier in the night one rocket fired from Gaza hit a house in the community of Sha’ar Hanegev, causing significant damage but no injuries.
The warnings came on a day of escalating violence.
Earlier Saturday four IDF soldiers were wounded, two seriously, when a bomb exploded next to their patrol on the Gaza border fence.
The army said the soldiers were hit when a patrol stopped along the border to remove a flag that had been placed at the fence a day earlier during a protest, and that a device planted below the flag then detonated.
The spokesperson said that the patrol — made up of Golani infantry soldiers and members of a combat engineering unit — was operating with standard procedures to remove any foreign object from the border fence, but that these would now be reviewed.
The soldiers were evacuated by helicopter to Soroka hospital in Beersheba for treatment, where three of them were rushed into surgery. The soldiers were not in life-threatening condition, hospital officials said later Saturday.
In response, an IDF tank fired a shell at a Palestinian Islamic Jihad observation post.
Later in the evening, the IAF hit six Hamas targets in Gaza, including an attack tunnel and Hamas weapons factories, the army said.
Also during the strikes an IDF tank opened fire on a group of Palestinians approaching the border in a “suspicious manner,” the army said. The Hamas-run health ministry said at least two people were wounded.
Hamas’s military wing, Izz ad Din al Qassam, claimed that it had used anti-aircraft missiles against Israeli jets flying over the coastal territory.
Hamas will not allow Israel to “impose any new equation on the ground or export its internal crises and the corruption cases of its leaders by escalating the aggression on our people,” Abd al Latif Kanou, a spokesman for the terror group said.