Hamas warned Saturday that its patience was wearing thin after two children were reported killed in an Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip Friday night.
“The blood of the two children was not spilt in vain,” a statement from the terrorist group said Saturday evening. “Hamas on Gaza children’s deaths: ‘Our patience is limited’ in the face of the occupation’s crimes.”
The IDF said it struck four Hamas targets in northern Gaza in retaliation to rocket-fire on Israel — four rockets from Gaza hit southern Israel earlier on Friday night — with Palestinian sources saying the bombings occurred near the town of Beit Lahiya.
Two siblings, a 6-year-old girl and her 10-year-old brother, were reported killed when a strike hit their home.
Alon Shuster, the head of the Shaar HaNegev regional council, sent condolences to the Gaza family, but blamed terrorists in Gaza for sparking the escalation. “I want to send my condolences to the family,” Shuster said, whose children “were killed as a result of a justified Israeli response to a crude attack on us and on Israel’s sovereign territory.”
Channel 2 said the estimation in the army was that Hamas had not fired the rockets on Friday evening, and was not seeking an escalation of hostilities.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Saturday Israel “will not tolerate attempts to breach the calm in the south of Israel and to disrupt the lives of residents.” He added that the military would respond “with increased force if these attempts continue.”
Reuters reported that the Gaza victims’ home was located near a Hamas training base that was targeted in the Israeli reprisal raids. It said the home was hit by debris from a missile explosion nearby.
Senior Hamas official Ismael Radwan called the Israeli strikes “an escalation” and placed “full responsibility” on the Jewish state.
Hamas’s Health Ministry said 10-year-old Yassin Sleiman Abu Khussa was killed. His 6-year-old sister Isaa and 13-year-old brother were injured in the airstrikes, with Isaa later dying of her wounds.
The Israeli army did not comment on the reports of the deaths, but said its air strikes were directed at Hamas terror infrastructure.
The Israeli strike had come in retaliation to the rocket fire at the southern town of Sderot on Friday. Rocket sirens sounded in the Sha’ar Hanegev area and in Sderot ahead of the projectiles’ fall.
No organization claimed responsibility for the launch of the four rockets, which came at around the same time as a shooting attack in the West Bank that left two IDF soldiers lightly hurt.
Reuters quoted IDF spokesman Peter Lerner saying the rocket fire from Gaza into Israel was an effort by terrorists to “threaten the security and safety of the people of southern Israel. The (military) will continue to act to protect against those who threaten innocent lives and Israel’s sovereignty,” he said.
On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of people attended Yassin’s funeral.
Earlier Friday evening, Hamas hacked into the private satellite feed of Israel’s Channel 2, interrupting broadcasts with a video promising its “terror will never end.” The rockets were fired soon after.
Israel has said in the past that it holds the Gaza-based Hamas terrorist group, which rules the Strip, as responsible for any attacks initiated from within the Palestinian coastal enclave.