TV says rocket damages home of Hamas official's brother

IDF: Gaza rocket fired at Israel falls short, strikes house in Strip

Military says home in Beit Hanoun hit by rocket, 2 days after a Gaza school was damaged in a similar incident

Illustrative: A trail of smoke from a rocket as it was launched from the Gaza Strip toward the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, August 24, 2014. (Edi Israel/Flash90/File)
Illustrative: A trail of smoke from a rocket as it was launched from the Gaza Strip toward the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, August 24, 2014. (Edi Israel/Flash90/File)

A rocket fired at Israel Friday evening from the Gaza Strip fell short and struck a house in the Palestinian enclave, the Israel Defense Forces said.

In a post on its Arabic Facebook page, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories — Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians — said the rocket hit the home of the al-Masri family in the northern Gaza city of Beit Hanoun.

“Once again the terror groups launch rockets at the residents of Gaza,” COGAT said.

It did not say if anyone was injured by the rocket.

A Hadashot news report said the rocket damaged the home of the brother of a senior Hamas official, Mushir al-Masri.

COGAT noted it was the second such incident this week. On Wednesday, a rocket fired at Israel from Gaza also fell inside the Palestinian territory and hit a public school, damaging a classroom, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who heads COGAT, said at the time.

The window of a Gaza schoolroom hit by a failed rocket launch, December 13, 2017 (Facebook/COGAT)

Friday’s failed rocket launch came amid a large rise in the number of rocket attacks on Israel from the Strip over the past week.

On Wednesday night, four rockets were fired from Gaza at southern Israel. Two of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, a third struck an open field and the fourth hit the school, according to Israeli officials.

In the past week, over a dozen rockets have been fired from Gaza. A number of them fell short, five were shot down by the Iron Dome and six struck Israel, two of them causing damage in the southern town of Sderot.

This has been the largest incidence of rocket fire from the Strip since the 2014 Israel-Hamas war. According to Israeli assessments, these rockets are not being launched by Hamas, but by other terrorist groups in the Strip.

Illustrative: A picture taken from the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip shows the trail of a missile launched by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, on August 22, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)

The Israel-Gaza tensions have been fed by Washington’s recognition last week of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Protesting US President Donald Trump’s December 6 declaration that Jerusalem is the Israeli capital, terror group Hamas, which runs Gaza and seeks Israel’s destruction, called for a new intifada and vowed to liberate Jerusalem.

Two Gazans were killed in clashes with IDF troops along the Gaza border earlier Friday.

On Friday, Israel reopened the pedestrian Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza after a one-day closure due to the stepped-up rocket attacks, COGAT confirmed.

The Kerem Shalom Crossing, from which goods enter and leave the Strip, will remain shuttered, a COGAT spokesman said.

Kerem Shalom had been closed on Thursday, along with the Erez Crossing.

The army said Thursday’s move was made in light of “security events and in accordance with security assessments.”

While the Gaza crossings are typically closed for Jewish and national holidays, it is uncommon for Israel to shut them for punitive reasons.

For over a decade, Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on Gaza, which they say is necessary to keep arms and other materials that can be used for military purposes out of the hands of Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups.

Israel allows goods to be brought into and out of Gaza on a daily basis, under heavy supervision, through the Kerem Shalom Crossing. Egypt, meanwhile, operates the Rafah Crossing into Sinai, but only opens it occasionally.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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