IDF strikes Hamas target in Gaza after rocket attack

Two injured in direct hit on Hamas facility in center of Strip; Salafi group affiliated with Islamic State claims responsibility for firing missile into Israel

Smoke rises over Gaza after an Israeli airstrike following several rockets attacks into southern Israel, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/ Flash90)
Smoke rises over Gaza after an Israeli airstrike following several rockets attacks into southern Israel, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/ Flash90)

Israeli planes struck a Hamas military facility in the central Gaza Strip Friday night, hours after a rocket shot from the Palestinian enclave landed in Israel.

The Hamas facility suffered a direct hit from the airstrike, the IDF Spokesman’s Unit said in a statement, adding that the army held Hamas responsible for any rocket attacks on Israeli territory.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said two people were injured in the strike.

Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP that one person was seriously hurt and the other moderately in the strike on a training facility of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, near El Bureij refugee camp in the centre of the strip.

He did not identify the casualties.

The Palestinian Ma’an news earlier reported that four people were hurt in the attack, which targeted the Nuseirat refugee camp.

A Salafi terrorist organization affiliated with the Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for the rocket attack on Friday afternoon.

The previously unheard of group, operating under the moniker “The Grandsons of the Companions of the Prophet,” said it fired the rocket, which landed in open territory north of the Kissufim crossing, in response to the Jewish state’s “attacks against the Al-Aqsa Mosque” in East Jerusalem.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage in the attack.

Two more rockets were also launched in the Friday afternoon volley, landing on the Gazan side, according to Hebrew media reports.

“Since the beginning of August multiple rockets have been fired towards southern Israel, most falling short in the Gaza Strip. Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live normal lives but instead terrorists choose to use the Gaza Strip as a launch pad for rocket attacks. Hamas, must fulfill its responsibilities or face the consequences,” IDF spokesman Peter Lerner said in a statement.

Army Radio quoted security officials as saying the rocket was probably made by poorly skilled technicians and launched by a terrorist group with capabilities inferior to those of Gaza-based Hamas, which rules the Strip.

On Thursday night, two rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip falling short of the border and landing in the Palestinian enclave.

Sporadic rocket fire over the past several months has frequently been attributed to struggles inside Gaza between Hamas and Salafist groups that oppose Hamas rule.

The official policy of the Israel Defense Forces is to retaliate to attacks, maintaining that it holds Hamas responsible for all rocket fire from the Strip.

Misfired rockets landing on the Gaza side of the fence do not generally elicit an Israeli response.

On August 1, two rockets fell near the Israel-Gaza border fence. No warning sirens were heard and the military was initially unsure whether the projectiles struck the Israeli or Gazan side of the border.

JTA and AFP contributed to this report

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