After Iron Dome shoots down rocket fired at Ashkelon, IDF hits Gaza targets

Two rounds of rocket fire and Israeli responses, a day after Israel blew up Hamas terror tunnel dug under the border

Illustrative: Flares fired by Israeli forces to check the border are seen over Gaza City on February 6, 2017. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)
Illustrative: Flares fired by Israeli forces to check the border are seen over Gaza City on February 6, 2017. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Israeli forces attacked Hamas targets in the northern Gaza Strip early Tuesday after Palestinians fired a rocket toward the southern city of Ashkelon, the army said. The rocket was intercepted by an Iron Dome anti-missile battery.

After the rocket fire, Israeli aircraft and a tank attacked Hamas sites in the Strip, the army said, noting that it holds the terror group, which runs Gaza, responsible for all rocket attacks.

This was the second round of Palestinian rocket fire and Israeli responses in the day.

The rocket, fired at about 11:30 p.m., triggered early warning sirens in Ashkelon, the Lachish region and in the area around the Gaza Strip.

The IDF said the Iron Dome successfully intercepted the rocket. No injuries were reported.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rocket fire, which came hours after Israel shelled a Hamas position in Gaza in response to a missile shot from Gaza.

No impact site was identified from the rocket fired earlier Monday, the army said, but reports indicated at least one missile landed in an open area near the border fence in the Eshkol region, opposite the southern Strip.

“The IDF hold Hamas responsible for these aggressive acts originating from the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said.

Tensions have steadily risen between Israel and Gaza since last week, when US President Donald Trump announced recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, setting off protests along the border, among other places, and a call by Gaza’s Hamas rulers for a new intifada.

Over the weekend, several rockets were fired at Israel by terrorists in Gaza, including one that hit near a home in Sderot and another one that damaged a kindergarten. A third rocket was shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Israel hit a number of Hamas positions in retaliation, killing two members of the terror group, which is the de-facto ruler of the Palestinian enclave. The group vowed revenge on Sunday.

“The enemy will pay the price for breaking the rules of engagement with the resistance in Gaza,” the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement.

On Monday, Israel said it had destroyed a tunnel dug by Hamas into Israeli territory, apparently for use in an attack.

Hamas on Thursday called for a new intifada against Israel, on Friday urged Palestinians to confront soldiers and settlers, and has allowed thousands of Gazans to confront Israeli troops at the Gaza border fence in recent days. Its leader Ismail Haniyeh on Friday praised the “blessed intifada,” urged the liberation of Jerusalem, and made plain the group was seeking to intensify violence against Israel.

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