Gazan rocket downed by Iron Dome over Ashdod

Air raid sirens ring out in port city for first time in over a year; video shows interception; Salafist group claims responsibility

Illustrative. The Iron Dome anti-missile battery fires a defensive shell near Beersheba during Operation Pillar of Defense. (Edi Israel/Flash90)
Illustrative. The Iron Dome anti-missile battery fires a defensive shell near Beersheba during Operation Pillar of Defense. (Edi Israel/Flash90)

A rocket shot out of the Gaza Strip was intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system Tuesday night.

Air raid sirens rang out in the southern city of Ashdod and the surrounding area, the Israeli army said in a statement, and a rocket was shot down by Iron Dome.

Israeli police said on Twitter there were no reports of injuries or damage.

Sources in Gaza told the Times of Israel the rocket was shot from the center of Gaza.

A Salafist group by the name of Shiek Amar Hadid claimed responsibility for the rocket attack on social media, charging that it was a response to the fatal shooting of a young Palestinian woman at a checkpoint in the West Bank last week. Hadeel al-Hashlamon, 18, was shot last Tuesday at a checkpoint in the city of Hebron. The military said she was attempting to stab a soldier when troops opened fire.

IDF sources said they believed the rocket fire was part of an internal power struggle between the Hamas terror group and smaller Salafist groups, the Walla news site reported.

Initial media reports had suggested two or more rockets were intercepted by the system. However video published to social media showed only a single interception.

צפו: 2 יירוטים של מערכת כיפת ברזל לפני זמן קצר. (צילום: טאי צבן).

Posted by ‎צבע אדום – חדשות MivzakLive‎ on Tuesday, September 29, 2015

An IDF spokesperson said she could not confirm the reports of more than one rocket.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police units were dispatched to search for an impact site and shrapnel.

The red alert sirens were the first to go off in Ashdod, some 40 kilometers from the Strip, since last summer’s war.

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The attack came during the Sukkot holiday, when Jewish schools are closed and many people travel around the country to various festivals, include a number aimed at bringing tourists to the south following the devastating 2014 war, when thousands of rockets targeted Ashdod and other cities outside Gaza.

Israel has faced sporadic rocket fire out of the Strip since reaching a ceasefire with Hamas-led fighters from the Palestinian enclave in August 2014, ending the 50-day war.

Much of the rocket fire since has come from Salafist groups, though Israel holds the Hamas terror group, which is the de-facto ruler of the Strip, responsible for all attacks emanating from Gaza.

Ashdod’s distance from the Strip likely indicates the use of a larger rocket than the type usually employed by smaller Salafist groups.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have run high for the past several weeks fed by clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount holy site.

However most of the violence has been centered in the capital and the West Bank, with Gazan groups mostly issuing harsh statements denouncing Israel.

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