IAF strikes 5 sites in Gaza Strip after rocket attacks

3 hidden rocket launchers, terror activity site and weapons storage facility targeted; direct hits confirmed

A trail of smoke is seen above Gaza City from rockets fired by Palestinians toward Israel, March 12, 2014 (photo credit: AP/Adel Hana)
A trail of smoke is seen above Gaza City from rockets fired by Palestinians toward Israel, March 12, 2014 (photo credit: AP/Adel Hana)

The Israeli Air Force struck five targets in the Gaza Strip overnight Thursday in retaliation for two rocket attacks launched against southern Israel earlier that day, one of which was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

The IDF said in a statement that three concealed rocket launchers in the northern Gaza Strip, a terror activity site in the central Gaza Strip and a weapons storage facility in the southern Gaza Strip were targeted in the strike.

Direct hits were confirmed.

“We have repeatedly addressed the consequences facing those who seek to endanger the lives of innocent civilians. The Iron Dome missile defense system’s success does not change the absurd fact that Israelis have been living under continuous rocket threat for multiple years,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said in a statement regarding the strikes.

“We shall persist with our determination to combat terror elements and eliminate the pending threat to Israeli lives.”

Earlier Thursday, emergency sirens sounded in several cities in southern Israel and citizens reported hearing explosions after rockets were launched at the region from the Gaza Strip. One rocket was thought to have landed in open territory near the city of Sderot in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, while another was intercepted by the Iron Dome system near the city of Ashkelon. No casualties or damage were reported.

Fourteen rockets have been launched from the Gaza Strip since Israeli forces embarked on a massive campaign to locate Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Frankel, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16, who were kidnapped in the West Bank last Thursday. Israeli leaders have held Hamas responsible for the abduction.

On Wednesday night, the IAF launched a series of similar airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, hitting several Hamas positions in the Palestinian enclave. Overnight Monday, Israeli aircraft struck four terror activity sites in the Gaza Strip following rocket fire into Israel in the evening hours, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said. The IDF reported direct hits, including on “a weapon manufacturing facility in the northern Gaza Strip and two weapon storage facilities in the central and southern Gaza Strip.”

On Sunday, Israeli forces positioned an Iron Dome anti-missile battery outside the southern coastal city of Ashdod, in response to an escalation in rocket fire from Gaza over the weekend.

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