IDF strikes Hamas targets in Gaza in response to earlier rocket attack
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IDF strikes Hamas targets in Gaza in response to earlier rocket attack

Two underground terror structures hit by warplanes in central and northern Strip, army says

Illustrative. An Israeli F-15 fighter jet. (Tsahi Ben-Ami/Flash90)
Illustrative. An Israeli F-15 fighter jet. (Tsahi Ben-Ami/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces attacked Hamas targets in Gaza overnight Friday-Saturday in response to a rocket that was fired by Palestinian terror groups into Israel earlier Friday, the army said in a statement.

“A short time ago, IDF warplanes and aircraft attacked two underground terror structures of the Hamas terror group in the north and center of the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said.

“The attack was carried out in response to the rocket that was launched from Gaza earlier tonight. The IDF will continue to act against attempts to harm Israeli civilians and sees the Hamas terror group as responsible for all that is done in the Gaza strip,” the statement said.

The rocket that was fired into Israel earlier was intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system and caused no injuries or damage.

Rocket sirens wailed in southern Israel on Friday evening near the Gaza border and local residents reported hearing explosions.

The sirens sounded in the town of Sderot, and in the communities of Or Haner, Nir Am, Erez and Gevim.

The rocket fire came after several thousand Palestinians joined protests on the Gaza Strip border earlier Friday, with several hundred rioting and throwing stones and explosive devices at Israeli troops.

Soldiers responded with tear gas and occasional live fire. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said 16 Palestinians had been injured.

For the past year, Palestinians have staged regular marches on the Gaza border known collectively as the Great March of Return. The spring of 2019 saw a dramatic increase in the level of violence along the Gaza border, with near nightly riots and airborne arson attacks, but the violence waned in recent weeks due to a de facto ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group.

A Palestinian rioter uses a slingshot to hurl stones at Israeli forces near the fence along the border with Israel in the eastern Gaza Strip on August 16, 2019. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

However, recent weeks have also seen several serious infiltration attempts into Israel.

In a span of 10 days, six armed Palestinian terrorists — many of them current and former Hamas members — got through the security fence surrounding the Gaza Strip before being killed by Israeli troops. In one case on August 1, the gunman opened fire at IDF soldiers, injuring three of them, before he was shot dead.

Last Saturday, a group of four heavily armed terrorists, carrying assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and rations, attempted to infiltrate Israeli territory before they were spotted and shot dead by troops on the border.

The Hamas terror group, which has ruled Gaza since 2007, has sought to distance itself from these attacks, saying they were carried out by angry young men.

Hamas deployed additional troops to the frontier in a bid to prevent breaches of the border fence, understanding that these cross-border attacks risked provoking a harsh response by the Israeli military, according to the Palestinian Amad news outlet.

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