IDF: Israeli jets strike underground Hamas facility in central Gaza

Military says attack on weapons site came in response to rocket fire Saturday; anti-aircraft missiles launched at IAF aircraft, setting off alarms in border towns

Fire and smoke rise above buildings in Gaza City as Israel launched air strikes against a Hamas site, early February 13, 2023. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
Fire and smoke rise above buildings in Gaza City as Israel launched air strikes against a Hamas site, early February 13, 2023. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

Israeli fighter jets targeted an underground weapons facility in the central Gaza Strip in the predawn hours of Monday in response to a rocket launch from the Palestinian enclave on Saturday evening, the military said.

The Israel Defense Forces said the targeted facility produced raw materials for manufacturing rockets and was run by the Hamas terror group.

“The strike deals a serious blow to Hamas’s ability to fortify and arm itself,” the IDF said in a statement.

Israel considers Hamas, which rules the Strip, responsible for any attack emanating from the enclave regardless of whether the group was behind it.

Shortly after the military confirmed the attack, incoming rocket warning sirens blared in southern Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip, including Sderot and Kibbutz Nir Am. The alert also sounded in Kibbutz Ruhama, about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) east of Sderot.

The IDF said four anti-aircraft missiles were fired toward Israeli aircraft and Israeli territory, three of which exploded mid-air. The Sderot municipality said falling shrapnel damaged several cars in the city.

The fourth projectile landed in an open field, causing no injuries or damage.

The military said Israeli tanks on the Gaza border fired on a number of Hamas military observation posts in retaliation. It provided a short video of one of these attacks.

The Israeli bombing came more than a day after the military said a single rocket from Gaza was downed by the Iron Dome air defense system, on Saturday evening.

Despite the overnight tensions, the military gave the okay for school in communities near the border to go ahead as normal, indicating further hostilities were not expected.

The rocket fire came amid heightened tensions in the region, and a day after three Israelis — including two young siblings aged five and seven — were killed in a car-ramming terror attack in East Jerusalem on Friday.

Tensions have been high as the IDF has pressed on with an anti-terror offensive mostly focused on the northern West Bank to deal with a series of attacks that have left 31 people in Israel dead in 2022, and another ten since the beginning of the year. Late last month, a Palestinian terrorist killed seven Israelis in shooting attack near a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood.

The IDF’s operation in the West Bank has netted more than 2,500 arrests in near-nightly raids. It also left 171 Palestinians dead in 2022, and another 45 since the beginning of the year, many of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, though some were uninvolved civilians.

The military said in its statement Monday that it holds Hamas responsible for “security violations” carried out in Gaza against the State of Israel.

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