IDF strikes Hamas target in Gaza following mortar attack
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IDF strikes Hamas target in Gaza following mortar attack

Gaza sources report additional attack in central Strip, after projectile hits open field in southern Israel

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

A picture taken from the Israel-Gaza border shows smoke rising from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip following an Israeli military strike on October 5, 2016. (Jack Guez/AFP)
A picture taken from the Israel-Gaza border shows smoke rising from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip following an Israeli military strike on October 5, 2016. (Jack Guez/AFP)

An IDF tank attacked a Hamas outpost in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday in response to a mortar shell fired at southern Israel earlier in the day, the army said.

Reports within the Gaza Strip also indicated that Israeli forces struck a site in central Gaza, east of the Bureij refugee camp, though that was not immediately confirmed by the IDF.

There were no immediate reports of Palestinian injuries.

Earlier in the day, a mortar shell fired from Gaza struck an open field in the Eshkol region, the army said.

It was the second such attack by Palestinians in two days.

On Wednesday, a rocket hit the southern Israeli town of Sderot and exploded in the middle of a street, causing some damage to the road, cars and nearby homes. Three people were hospitalized after suffering anxiety attacks.

Police sappers dig out piece of a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip that struck a road in the southern city of Sderot on October 5, 2016. ( FLASH90)
Police sappers dig out piece of a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip that struck a road in the southern city of Sderot on October 5, 2016. ( FLASH90)

The Islamic State-affiliated Ahfad al-Sahaba-Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis terrorist group took responsibility for Wednesday’s rocket launch. In a statement, the group said the attack on Sderot was a response to Hamas arresting several members of the organization.

In response, the IDF struck Hamas targets, first with tank fire approximately an hour after the rocket struck Sderot and then with a series of airstrikes in Gaza, targeting “key Hamas strategic infrastructure,” according to a military official.

In a statement, the IDF explained that Hamas ultimately “bears responsibility for every terror incident emanating from” the Gaza Strip.

After the airstrikes Hamas reportedly sent a message to Israel calling for calm and saying the terrorist group was not interested in a further escalation of tensions.

A Hamas official said the group told Israel it would not allow other terrorist groups within Gaza to further inflame the situation, according to Israel Radio. He said that the group passed on the message via a third party, Israel Radio reported.

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