Rocket fire from Gaza continued on Thursday morning, causing damage to two buildings in Sderot. No injuries were reported.
One of the rockets hit the side of a building that contains a preschool, but did not explode. The area was closed off to passersby, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld tweeted on Thursday morning, and police sappers were working to remove the unexploded warhead.
Israel’s Iron Dome system shot down two rockets fired from Gaza fired in the direction of the southern town of Netivot early Thursday morning.
Security officials said Thursday that Hamas was believed to be responsible for the continuing salvo of rockets striking southern towns. Officials believe the organization is responding to rising tensions in the West Bank in the wake of the kidnapping-murder of an Arab teen in East Jerusalem this week, which officials believe may have been an attack by extremist Jews in retaliation for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens on June 12 by Hebron-based Hamas members.
Photos of the damaged buildings were posted online Thursday.
— החדשות – N12 (@N12News) July 3, 2014
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) July 3, 2014
— החדשות – N12 (@N12News) July 3, 2014
Several instances of rockets attacks were reported throughout the morning. A total of 10 rockets were fired since midnight.
Confirmed: Another rocket hit a house in Sderot. Three additional rockets hit open areas. No injuries reported.
— LTC (R) Peter Lerner (@LTCPeterLerner) July 3, 2014
Four rockets fired early Thursday morning landed in open terrain. Earlier, three rockets set off the warning sirens in the Sdot Negev Regional Council. All three landed in open terrain, causing no injuries or damage.
Throughout Wednesday and into Thursday, Israeli jets carried out 15 precision strikes in the Gaza Strip. At least 10 Palestinians were injured, according to reports.
The IDF confirmed the strikes in a statement saying Hamas targets were hit, “including concealed rocket launchers, weapon storage facilities and terror activity sites.”
On Wednesday night, three rockets fired from Gaza exploded near residential buildings in the southern city of Sderot, causing damage to the buildings and to several vehicles as well as cutting off power to several streets in the city, officials said.
Two of the rockets hit residential buildings while a third fell against a reinforced shelter inside the city but did not cause damage.
Two other rockets fired earlier fell in open fields outside the city, security officials said.
Over 20 rockets were fired from Gaza throughout Wednesday, repeatedly setting off warning sirens in the towns of the Gaza periphery.
On Wednesday evening Israeli jets struck in the Gaza Strip, hitting a “launching site,” the army said.
The Gaza-Israel border has seen a sharp military escalation in recent days, with Hamas claiming responsibility for several rocket attacks and the Israel Air Force striking numerous targets in response to the salvos.
The sharp increase in violence in the south has come as tensions flare in the West Bank and inside Israel following the killing of the Israeli teenagers, the discovery of their bodies on June 30, and the suspected revenge killing of an Arab teen in East Jerusalem on July 2.
Israel’s leaders have blamed Hamas for the three teens’ murders. The two suspected kidnappers, Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme — still at large — are known members of Hamas in Hebron.
Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal has denied his movement’s involvement in the killing, and tried via the Turkish prime minister to dissuade Israel from launching a massive strike on the Gaza Strip, Sky News Arabia reported on Wednesday.
Unnamed sources told the British channel that Mashaal has attempted to convey a message to Israel through the Turks saying that Hamas is uninterested in escalation, and continues to adhere to a ceasefire agreement reached with Israel following Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012. Mashaal also said that “Hamas had no involvement or knowledge” of the teens’ kidnapping and killing.
Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gil-ad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, were laid to rest on Tuesday.