IDF launches airstrike after Gaza rockets target Israel

Air force hits concealed rocket launchers hours after projectiles from the Strip fired into Israel

Illustrative. An Israeli tank overlooks the Gaza Strip. (Courtesy: Yad L'shiryon)
Illustrative. An Israeli tank overlooks the Gaza Strip. (Courtesy: Yad L'shiryon)

The IDF launched an airstrike on Gaza early Wednesday morning in response to rockets fired into southern Israel from the territory, the army said in a statement.

The air force targeted concealed rocket launchers in the northern Gaza Strip. Direct hits were confirmed.

Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesman, said the air force was safeguarding Israeli civilians and targeting terror cells. “The IDF air strikes were conducted in response to the rocket launched at the civilians living in the Sha’ar HaNegev regional council yesterday (Tuesday) evening,” Lerner said in the statement. “This is an absurd situation that would not be tolerated anywhere else in the world. The IDF is charged with, and will continue to operate in order to safeguard Israel’s civilians, and combat terror and its infrastructure the in the Gaza Strip.”

Lerner added that Israel holds Hamas accountable for any terror activity emanating from the Strip.

Hours earlier, just before 10 p.m. Tuesday evening, rockets targeting southern Israel were fired from Gaza. No injuries or damage were reported.

One rocket, reportedly fired at the town of Sderot, fell inside the Gaza Strip. A second rocket was fired at the Sha’ar Hanegev region, and was thought to have landed in an open area. Residents in the area told Maariv they heard a loud explosion, but the projectile had yet to be located as of 10:30 p.m.

Sirens sounded in both places, and no injuries or damage were reported.

The assault came less than 24 hours after a Grad rocket was launched from Sinai at the Red Sea resort town of Eilat. The rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system and caused no damage. Three people were treated by paramedics for shock.

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Rocket fire at Israel, once a daily occurrence, has mostly tailed off since Israel’s mini-war with Hamas in November.

The fire coincided with the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, 15 of them to Gaza, as Israel and the Palestinians resumed long-dormant peace talks.

Israel’s Army Radio reported that some of the sirens in Israel might have been triggered by fireworks set off near the Israel-Gaza border by Palestinians celebrating the imminent return of the 15 prisoners to the strip.

Hamas, which controls the Strip, has rejected the talks, which are being managed by the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority and mediated by the United States. The sides were expected to meet Wednesday in Jerusalem.

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