Gazan terrorists fire mortar shells at Israel; IDF retaliates with airstrike
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Gazan terrorists fire mortar shells at Israel; IDF retaliates with airstrike

One projectile strikes open field in south, causing no damage, three others land inside the Strip, amid soaring tensions

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative. Palestinian terrorists fire a mortar shell during a graduation ceremony in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 29, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Illustrative. Palestinian terrorists fire a mortar shell during a graduation ceremony in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 29, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Palestinian terrorists fired four mortar shells at Israel from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, with one of them landing inside Israeli territory, the army said.

In response, an Israeli aircraft bombed a Hamas observation post east of Juhor ad-Dik in the central Gaza Strip, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

No injuries were reported on either side.

The military said one of the shells cleared the border and struck an open field in Israeli territory, causing no damage. Three appeared to have landed inside Gaza.

The shell that hit Israel triggered rocket alert sirens in the area where the mortar landed, the army said.

The volley came amid a flurry of rocket attacks and mutual threats between Israel and terror groups in the Gaza Strip. Israel has accused the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad of being behind the recent violence from the enclave.

Explosions seen in the Gaza Strip on Monday August 26, apparently caused by IAF strikes after three rockets were fired into Israel (Screencapture/Twitter)

Senior Egyptian intelligence officials invited Hamas leaders to Cairo for talks aimed at restoring calm and a delegation led by two top Hamas members was slated to leave Gaza late on Monday, according to Israel’s Kan public broadcaster.

A delegation from the Islamic Jihad is expected to head to Cairo in the coming days as well.

Since the start of August, an uptick in rocket fire and attempts by Palestinian gunmen to cross from Gaza into Israel have been met with IDF airstrikes on Hamas targets, threatening a fragile ceasefire between Israel and the ruling terror group.

On Sunday night, three rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel, causing some damage but no injuries. The rockets prompted reprisal Israeli strikes, and on Monday, Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians announced it had reduced fuel shipments to the Gaza Strip’s sole power plant.

Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun — known formally as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories — said the downsizing of the shipments was ordered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also defense minister.

Later Monday, Abu Rukun warned Gaza residents that the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group was actively trying to ignite a fresh war in the region.

Hamas has denied it directed the latest rocket fire.

Israel maintains that Hamas, as the Strip’s ruler, is ultimately responsible for all attacks emanating from the territory, while saying that it believes the Islamic Jihad is instigating the current unrest.

The mortar attacks also came amid heightened tensions throughout the Middle East, as Israel squared off against Iran and its proxies in multiple countries, taking responsibility for an airstrike in Syria and being blamed for others in Lebanon and Iraq as well as an exploding drone incident which damaged a Hezbollah terror group complex in Beirut.

The Iran-backed Hezbollah has vowed to retaliate for the Syria attack, which killed some of its members.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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