IAF strikes Gaza terror targets after rocket hits Sderot preschool
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IAF strikes Gaza terror targets after rocket hits Sderot preschool

Israel raids 4 sites that are ‘components of Hamas’s operational infrastructure’ in Strip

Smoke rises following an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 5, 2016. (AFP/Said Khatib)
Smoke rises following an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 5, 2016. (AFP/Said Khatib)

The Israeli Air Force attacked targets belonging to terror groups in the Gaza Strip early Saturday morning, the IDF said, hours after a rocket fired from the coastal enclave landed outside a preschool in the border town of Sderot, causing damage but no injuries.

The four Gaza sites included a workshop, two locations of Hamas’s armed wing and a military training site for Islamic Jihad, a Gaza security official said on condition of anonymity. There were no reports of casualties.

Two of the sites were in Gaza City, while two were in the northern town of Beit Lahiya. All of the sites have been previously targeted by Israel, the official said.

The IDF said in a statement it had “targeted four locations that were components of Hamas’s operational infrastructure in the northern and central Gaza Strip.”

Members of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, holds his weapon as they guard a street in Gaza City on March 28, 2016. (AFP / MOHAMMED ABED)
Members of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, holds his weapon as they guard a street in Gaza City on March 28, 2016. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)

No group in Gaza claimed responsibility for the rocket fire on Sderot, which came hours after Israel announced a lockdown on the West Bank city of Hebron — the area of two deadly attacks on Israelis since Thursday — and cuts in monthly tax payments to the Palestinian Authority for the amounts it gives to the families of terrorists.

“Over the past two days Israeli civilians have witnessed and experienced the devastating effects of incitement-fueled terrorism based on hatred and radical beliefs,” IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said in a statement following the airstrike.

“The rocket attack today in Sderot is a horrific reminder of the intentions of terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip to target communities, people, men women and children. In our efforts to ensure stability, we continue to defend against those who put innocent lives in harm’s way.”

An earlier rocket exploded in an open area in the Sha’ar HaNegev region of Israel, causing no damage. More than a dozen rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israel since the start of 2016.

The rocket fire set off sirens throughout Sderot and other communities in the area. Residents then reported hearing two loud explosions.

Channel 2 television said several people in the area vicinity of the Sderot impact site suffered from shock. Medics said they treated two people.

The rocket fire from Gaza is usually claimed by small Salafi groups engaged in a power struggle with the Hamas terror group, which has ruled the Strip since a bloody coup against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement in 2007. Hamas has made sporadic efforts to clamp down on the rocket fire, although it too is sometimes involved in launches.

Israel has said repeatedly that it views Hamas as solely responsible for such attacks, and regularly responds to rocket fire with airstrikes on Hamas targets.

In June, Hamas test-fired dozens of short-range rockets in Gaza, with Israeli sources estimating that at least 30 projectiles were launched. The rockets were not aimed at Israeli territory.

AFP contributed to this report.

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