Israel bombs Hamas sites in Gaza, hours after rockets shot toward Ashkelon, Sderot

Military says it hit weapons workshop and naval arms cache, in apparent response to Palestinian reprisal launches after deadly IDF raid in Nablus Wednesday

Smoke rises above buildings in Gaza City as Israel launched air strikes on the Palestinian enclave early February 23, 2023. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
Smoke rises above buildings in Gaza City as Israel launched air strikes on the Palestinian enclave early February 23, 2023. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

Israeli warplanes carried out bombing raids against the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip early Thursday morning, the military said, hours after Palestinians fired six rockets into southern Israel in an apparent revenge attack for a deadly Israeli incursion into Nablus a day earlier.

Fighter jets hit a Hamas weapons workshop in central Gaza as well as an unspecified “military site” in the northern part of the Strip used by the group to store naval weapons, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

“The complex is located near a mosque, a medical clinic, a school, a hotel, and a police station. This is further proof that the Hamas terror organization places its military assets in the heart of a civilian population,” the military said.

“The strike deals a serious blow to Hamas’s ability to fortify and arm itself,” it added.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Videos shared on social media showed a large explosion at a building near the coast, and a dark plume of smoke rising above the densely populated enclave in the early morning light.

The IDF also published footage of the strikes.

The Israeli raid came in apparent response to a pre-dawn attack in which six rockets were fired at the Israeli cities of Ashkelon and Sderot and other areas near the Gaza Strip.

The military said five of the projectiles were downed by the Iron Dome anti-missile system and the last one landed in an open area.

There were no reports of damage or casualties. No Palestinian group claimed responsibility.

The attack came on the heels of a gun battle in the West Bank city of Nablus Wednesday in which 11 Palestinians were killed and over 100 injured by Israeli forces.

Palestinian terror groups said at least six of those killed were their operatives. It was not immediately clear whether the remaining five were involved in the clashes.

Police earlier raised their alert level amid fears of a reprisal attack, and a spokesman for the Gaza Strip-ruling Hamas’s military wing issued a veiled threat, saying the terror group was “observing the enemy’s escalating crimes against our people in the occupied West Bank, and its patience is running out.”

Islamic Jihad leader Ziyad Al-Nakhala called the Israeli raid a “huge crime.”

“It is our duty as resistance forces to respond to this crime without hesitation,” he said.

Over the past year, Gaza-based groups — notably Islamic Jihad — have launched rockets at Israel in response to members being killed or arrested in the West Bank. A potential response from the West Bank or East Jerusalem was also being anticipated.

The IDF said troops had entered Nablus on Wednesday morning to arrest Hussam Isleem, a senior member of the Lion’s Den terror group, who was allegedly the third member of a cell that killed Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch during a shooting attack in October. The other two were arrested last week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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