IDF strikes Hamas targets after Gaza rocket hits Israeli community
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IDF strikes Hamas targets after Gaza rocket hits Israeli community

Retaliatory fire on sites in northern Strip comes after Iron Dome intercepts two missiles and a third falls in Shaar Hanegev region

A picture taken on September 17, 2017, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, along the border with Egypt, shows smoke billowing from Egypt's North Sinai. (AFP/SAID KHATIB)
A picture taken on September 17, 2017, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, along the border with Egypt, shows smoke billowing from Egypt's North Sinai. (AFP/SAID KHATIB)

Israel carried out a series of strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza Friday afternoon, the army said, in retaliation for a volley of rockets fired at Israel from the Palestinian enclave.

In a statement, the IDF spokesperson said Israeli planes and tanks targeted two Hamas sites in the northern Gaza Strip.

The retaliatory fire came an hour after three rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip, in the first such incident in over a week.

Two of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system while the third fell in Israeli territory in the Shaar Hanegev region, on the Gaza border.

Police said they found the rocket at the entrance to a building that had sustained damaged from the fall.

Rocket warning sirens were heard shortly before midday in the Shaar Hanegev and Sedot Hanegev regions, sending frightened residents running to shelters.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

The damage cause by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip that landed at the entrance to a building in the Shaar Hanegev region, December 29, 2017. (Israel Police)

The rockets were the first fired from Gaza since December 18, which followed two weeks of numerous attacks, the largest incidence of rocket fire from the Strip since the 2014 Israel-Hamas war.

According to Israeli assessments, these rockets are not being launched by Hamas, but by other terrorist groups in the Strip. However, analysts have noted that Hamas was either unwilling or unable to clamp down on the groups.

On December 19, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said he believed that the rocket fire by Gaza-based terrorist groups was over, referring to the attacks as the “price” Israel had to pay for US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“The ‘drizzle'” — the slang term for sporadic rocket attacks — “is not continuing. We’ve already had one day of total quiet,” Liberman said, following a meeting with the heads of mayors and regional council leaders from the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip.

Protesting Trump’s December 6 declaration that Jerusalem is the Israeli capital, terror group Hamas, which runs Gaza and seeks Israel’s destruction, called for a new intifada and vowed to liberate Jerusalem.

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