Israeli jets strike Hamas post in Gaza, hours after bomb explodes on border
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Israeli jets strike Hamas post in Gaza, hours after bomb explodes on border

Military says raid comes in response to attempted bombing of Israeli troops earlier in the day

Illustrative: Smoke billows from a Palestinian Islamic Jihad position near Gaza City after Israeli aircraft bombed it on November 30, 2017, in retaliation for a mortar attack that targeted Israeli troops northeast of the Gaza Strip earlier in the day. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)
Illustrative: Smoke billows from a Palestinian Islamic Jihad position near Gaza City after Israeli aircraft bombed it on November 30, 2017, in retaliation for a mortar attack that targeted Israeli troops northeast of the Gaza Strip earlier in the day. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Israeli jets carried out airstrikes on a Hamas target in the central Gaza Strip late Saturday night in retaliation for a bombing on the southern border earlier in the day, the army said.

The raid just after midnight on Sunday came hours after a bomb planted near the Israel-Gaza border exploded, causing no casualties. Israeli tanks earlier on Saturday had destroyed a Hamas post in the area in response to the bombing.

The army said it held the Gaza terrorist group Hamas, which controls the enclave, responsible for the explosion at the security fence. It said a Hamas “terror target” in central Gaza was struck by the Israeli fire overnight Saturday-Sunday, without elaborating.

Earlier on Saturday, the IDF said there were no troops near the bomb when it detonated, the latest in a series of attempted bomb attacks on Israeli troops.

On Thursday, two improvised explosive devices were detonated as a military patrol vehicle drove by the security fence surrounding northern Gaza, prompting the Israel Defense Forces to retaliate with tank fire at terror targets. There were no Israeli injuries reported in the IED attack.

On Friday, Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians issued a warning to Hamas about the bombs, saying, “The provocations by Hamas and other terrorist organizations could lead to an escalation” of violence along the Gaza border.

Improvised explosive devices have long been a concern for the IDF in Gaza, as they are relatively easy and inexpensive to produce and can be set off from afar. In light of the threat, the army has a number of protocols for how to deal with suspicious objects near the security fence so explosives can be disarmed or destroyed in a controlled explosion.

Last month, four IDF soldiers were injured when an IED was detonated along the southern Gaza fence.

During a violent protest, members of the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committee’s umbrella terrorist group approached the border fence and placed a Palestinian flag on it. The following day, when IDF troops from the Golani Brigade and the Combat Engineering Corps approached the fence to remove the flag, an IED detonated, wounding the soldiers, two of them seriously.

On Friday, some 150 Palestinians were said to have taken part in riots along the Gaza border, with the Palestinian Authority’s official Wafa news agency reporting seven demonstrators were wounded by Israeli fire during the clashes.

The protests were part of a “day of rage” marking 100 days since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Hundreds of Palestinians also clashed with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.

Hamas, the terror group that rules the Gaza Strip, has urged Palestinians to initiate clashes with Israel, saying the rage should continue until Trump’s decision is withdrawn.

Khaled Abu Toameh and Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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