The Israel Defense Forces said it launched airstrikes against the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza in the predawn hours of Saturday morning after weapons were fired at Israel from the Strip on Friday, setting off sirens.
“A short time ago IDF warplanes and aircraft attacked terror targets belonging to the Hamas terror organization in the northern Gaza Strip, including a military compound,” the army said in a statement. “The attack was carried out in response to fire from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory earlier tonight.”
“The IDF sees gravely the firing of any kind of weapons toward Israeli territory, and will continue to take whatever action is necessary against attempts to harm Israeli civilians,” the statement said. “The Hamas terror organization is responsible for all acts in and emanating from the Gaza Strip and it will bear the consequences of all terror acts carried out against Israeli civilians.”
The army had earlier referred to the attack as “non-rocket fire” that did not cause casualties or damage, but did not give specifics. It set off sirens in the Ashkelon area north of Gaza. Iron Dome interceptors were fired in response but no interception was made.
Earlier on Friday evening aircraft had attacked a Hamas target in northern Gaza in response to a rocket attack that also set off alarms in Israel. The army said the rocket exploded in an open field in Israeli territory. There were no casualties or damage in the attack.
The incidents came hours after a Palestinian teenager was reported killed by Israeli troops during a protest near the Gaza-Israel border.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry reported that 16-year-old Fahed al-Astal was shot in the stomach and that five others were wounded. No official demonstrations were held Friday. An IDF spokesman said some demonstrators had approached the border fence and attempted to sabotage it. Troops responded with less-lethal means as well as some live fire.
On Tuesday, terrorists fired two rockets at southern Israel as Palestinians marked a “day of rage” in response to a recent decision by the United States supporting Israeli settlements. One of the projectiles was shot down by the Iron Dome. The second appeared to strike an open field in the Sha’ar Hanegev region of southern Israel.
The IDF launched airstrikes on Hamas targets in Gaza in response.
A day earlier, a mortar shell from Gaza landed in southern Israel.
For the third straight week, the territory’s Hamas rulers canceled the regular Friday “March of Return” protests for fear of instability. This came following two days of intense fighting between Israel and the smaller Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group earlier this month.
According to the Kan public broadcaster, organizers insisted that the cancellation of this week’s demonstration “has nothing to do with the recent understanding reached with Israel” and the measure was taken to protect Palestinian protesters from Israeli troops at the border.
The fighting earlier this month started after the IDF killed Baha Abu al-Ata, a top commander in Islamic Jihad.
During the escalation in tensions, the Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, fired some 450 rockets and mortars at Israel, which responded with many retaliatory strikes in Gaza.
The Hamas terror group’s Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, unlike in previous rounds of fighting, was widely believed to have stayed on the sidelines.
Three Israelis were wounded by rocket fire during the fighting, and dozens were injured when they fell while running to bomb shelters.
Palestinian sources said 34 Gazans were killed. Israel said 25 of the fatalities were terrorists; human rights officials said 16 civilians were among the dead.
In addition, the Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s military wing, said Friday one of its members succumbed to injuries he sustained in an Israeli airstrike during the last round of fighting. It identified him as 30-year-old Raed al-Sarsawi.