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Two rockets explode in southern Israel

Israeli officials believe launch came from Sinai peninsula, though Gaza jihadists claim attack; no casualties or damage

Illustrative. A rocket is fired at Israel from Gaza on August 9, 2014. (AP/Dusan Vranic)
Illustrative. A rocket is fired at Israel from Gaza on August 9, 2014. (AP/Dusan Vranic)

Two rockets exploded in Israeli territory near the Gaza Strip Friday afternoon, and security officials said they believed the launch came from the Sinai peninsula.

A group of Islamic State supporters in Gaza, calling itself the Omar Hadid Brigades, claimed responsibility. They did not name the location of the launch.

The rockets hit open fields and there were no reports of casualties or damage.

The launch set off “Color Red” warning sirens in the Eshkol Regional Council, which borders the southern Gaza Strip as well as the Egyptian peninsula.

Jihadists in Sinai have fired rockets into Israel in the past.

The Israeli military is increasingly wary of attacks from Sinai, where a deadly assault by an Islamic State-affiliated group Wednesday killed over 70 Egyptian troops.

On Thursday the Israel Defense Forces ordered the closure of Highway 12, which runs along the border with Egypt, until further notice. It also upped its presence along the border, as security officials cautioned that the IS-affiliated group Wilayat Sinai could attempt to overrun the Gaza Strip.

There has also recently been in increase in sporadic attacks by terror elements in the Strip. Recent weeks have seen several rocket launches from Gaza, the first significant attacks since the conclusion of the war between Israel and armed groups in the coastal territory last summer.

In each incident, one or two projectiles were fired at Israel. The IDF has at times responded with limited aerial strikes in response.

While the IDF believes Hamas is not directly involved in the attacks, as it is not interested in another round of violence, the defense establishment has repeatedly said it holds Hamas solely responsible for any violence coming out of the Gaza Strip, where Hamas is de facto in control.

 

AP contributed to this report.

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