Rocket launched from Gaza at Israel after threats over Ben Gvir’s Temple Mount visit

Military says projectile failed to cross border, landed short in Hamas-run territory; no sirens sounded

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Rockets being fired by Islamic Jihad toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, on August 5, 2022. (Attia Muhammed/Flash90)
Illustrative: Rockets being fired by Islamic Jihad toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, on August 5, 2022. (Attia Muhammed/Flash90)

A rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel on Tuesday night, the military said, after National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir paid a morning visit to the flashpoint Temple Mount site, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, amid retaliation threats from the coastal enclave’s rulers, the Hamas terror group.

The Israel Defense Forces said the projectile landed short, inside the Strip, apparently causing no injuries or damage.

Incoming rocket sirens did not sound in Israeli communities as the rocket was projected by defense systems to land in the Hamas-run territory.

Israeli residents of towns near the border reported hearing a large explosion.

The IDF said there were no special instructions for residents following the rocket fire.

The rocket fire came after Hamas had warned that a visit by Ben Gvir to the Temple Mount would be a “detonator,” and vowed resistance.

Ben Gvir and his party have repeatedly dismissed the Hamas threats.

The newly minted national security minister, who has long been accused of being a provocateur, made several trips to the Temple Mount as an activist and Knesset member and has also led contentious nationalist marches through the Muslim Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City. On several occasions, he set up an ad hoc office in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, which has also been at the center of Israeli-Palestinian tensions, kindling unrest.

Ben Gvir is head of one of the three far-right parties in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nascent coalition.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir visits the Temple Mount, January 3, 2023. (Courtesy: Minhelet Har Habayit)

Israel says it holds Hamas responsible for all violence emanating from the Strip and generally responds to rocket fire with airstrikes against the group regardless of who launched the attack.

It was unclear if Israel was preparing a response against the failed rocket launch Tuesday. Rarely has the IDF launched airstrikes in response to rockets that did not manage to cross into Israeli territory from Gaza.

There was no immediate claim by any of the Gaza-based terror groups for the rocket fire.

The last time rockets were fired from the coastal enclave toward Israel was on December 3, apparently in response to the death of two Palestinian Islamic Jihad members during a West Bank raid.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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