Israeli warplanes struck Hamas sites in the northern and southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday afternoon, in the second such attack of the day after a rocket fired from the coastal enclave struck Sderot, according to Palestinian media.
The Israel Defense Forces confirmed the airstrikes, saying it targeted “a number of terror installations belonging to the Hamas terror group.”
In its statement, the IDF called Hamas “the sovereign in the Gaza Strip, which bears responsibility for every terror incident emanating from it.”
According to Palestinian media, Israeli jets hit targets in both the al-Tufah neighborhood of Gaza City in the northern Strip and in the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. According to Channel 2 television, the targets included Hamas rocket stockpiles.
Earlier in the day, Israeli tanks fired on Hamas targets in Beit Hanoun in the northeastern corner of the Strip, the army said. There were no immediate reports of Palestinian injuries.
The rocket, which was fired from the Gaza Strip, struck a street in the Israeli city of Sderot — a few miles from Beit Hanoun — just before 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, police said.
IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said in a statement, “Today’s attack, the second since the beginning of August in the city of Sderot, is the direct result of Hamas’ terror agenda in the Gaza Strip that encourages deliberate attacks against Israeli civilians. The IDF remains committed to the stability of the region and the defense of the residents of southern Israel in the face of terror.”
The strike caused damage and sent ten people to the hospital suffering from anxiety attacks.
The Islamic State-affiliated Ahfad al-Sahaba-Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis terrorist group took responsibility for the rocket launch in statements released in both Arabic and Hebrew.
“Oh you cowardly Jews: You don’t have safety in our land. [Former defense minister Moshe] Ya’alon, the failure at giving security. [Defense Minister Avigdor] Liberman to fail will be a certainty,” the Salafist group said in its statement, in poorly translated Hebrew.
The attack against Israel was apparently a response to the Strip’s Hamas rulers arresting several members of the Salafist organization, according to the group’s statement.
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Though the Salafist group claimed the attack, Israel has said it holds Hamas responsible for any attacks emanating from Gaza and routinely responds to such launches with strikes inside the Palestinian territory.
“We can’t go after every little group in Gaza with a couple of dozen members that goes out one night and fires a rocket,” a senior officer in the IDF’s Southern Command told reporters last month.
Ahfad al-Sahaba-Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis released a similar statement last month after a failed attempt to launch a rocket at southern Israel on the first day of school. The group also claimed responsibility for a rocket attack that hit Sderot in August, landing between two houses in the southern Israeli city.
In Wednesday morning’s rocket attack, ten people in Sderot “suffered anxiety attacks” and were treated by medical teams, but no one was physically hurt by the attack, according to the Magen David Adom medical service.
The ten — including a 15-year-old girl and a 60-year-old man — were taken to Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center for further care, MDA paramedics said.
The street where the rocket landed was damaged in the attack, as were several nearby cars and homes.
Police sappers were called to the scene, and the area was closed off to pedestrians and traffic, police said.
Last month, a mortar shell was launched from the Gaza Strip and landed in a field in southern Israel, causing neither injury nor damage, the army said. The projectile hit an empty field in the Eshkol region, next to the southern Strip, according to a statement from the Israel Defense Forces.