IAF jets strike Gaza rocket launcher used in earlier attack

Residents of Gaza-area villages forced to seek shelter Tuesday night after rocket fire triggers sirens; no injuries or damage reported as projectile lands in open area near Yad Mordechai

Joshua Davidovich is The Times of Israel's Deputy Editor

Illustrative: Palestinian missiles are fired from Gaza City toward Israel following Israeli airstrikes on July 17, 2014. (AFP/Thomas Coex)
Illustrative: Palestinian missiles are fired from Gaza City toward Israel following Israeli airstrikes on July 17, 2014. (AFP/Thomas Coex)

Israeli Air Force jets struck a rocket launcher in the northern Gaza Strip late Tuesday that was used to launch a rocket toward Kibbutz Yad Mordechai earlier in the evening. The launcher was reportedly destroyed in the attack.

The rocket fire from Gaza triggered sirens in towns along the rocket’s trajectory, sending residents searching for shelter.

The rocket landed in an open area near Yad Mordechai, the IDF said in a statement.

There were no reports of injuries or damage directly after the alarms, which sounded in the communities of Zikim, Karmia, Netiv Ha’asara and Yad Mordechai just after 10 p.m.

Residents in the area reported hearing a large boom, according to media reports.

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The attack was the latest in a string of rockets targeting Israel over the last month that were attributed primarily to a small jihadist group locked in a battle with Hamas.

Israel has maintained that Hamas, which rules the Strip, bears responsibility for any fire directed at Israel from its territory. The IDF reiterated that position Tuesday night, shortly before the air strike.

“The terror organization Hamas is the address, and on it lies the responsibility,” the army said.

Yisrael Beytenu party leader MK Avigdor Liberman, a former foreign minister, called on the government to take action to end the sporadic rocket fire.

“Whoever is prepared to accept a drizzle — will at the end of the day get a torrential downpour,” he wrote on Facebook. “This situation is insufferable, unfathomable, and must be brought to an end.”

Israeli planes have attacked targets in Gaza in the past following rocket attacks.

The alarms come a day after the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a report accusing both Israel and Palestinian armed groups of possible war crimes during 50 days of fighting in the Strip last summer.

The Palestinian groups were accused of indiscriminately firing rockets at Israel during the summer war, which saw thousands of missile and mortar attacks on Israeli cities.

Hamas dismissed the parts of the report that accused it of firing rockets, saying it only targeted military installations, while praising the report’s overall focus on alleged Israeli crimes.

The report accused Israel of not doing enough to protect civilians during the fighting in Gaza, among a slew of other violations.

Jerusalem slammed the inquiry as unfair, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it “flawed and biased.”

The sides have mostly kept a ceasefire since the war ended in August, though it has been broken by sporadic rocket fire.

Unofficial reports in recent weeks have indicated Israel and Hamas are negotiating a long-term ceasefire in return for the easing of an eight-year blockade on the Palestinian enclave.

Tensions have also been raised over hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan, who the Red Cross said Tuesday was at immediate risk of death.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report

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