2 rockets fired from Gaza intercepted over south after deadly West Bank raid

No injuries or damage caused in attack on Ashkelon, nearby towns; rocket fire comes after threats of a response over deaths of 9 Palestinians in Jenin

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

A long exposure shows a light trail from a projectile fired from Gaza City at Israel as the IDF launched air strikes on the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave early on January 27, 2023. (Mohammed Abed / AFP)
A long exposure shows a light trail from a projectile fired from Gaza City at Israel as the IDF launched air strikes on the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave early on January 27, 2023. (Mohammed Abed / AFP)

Two rockets launched from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel shortly before midnight on Thursday were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, the military said, hours after terror groups threatened to respond to a deadly raid in the West Bank earlier in the day.

Incoming rocket sirens sounded in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon, as well as in its industrial zone, and the nearby towns of Zikim and Karmia.

Footage showed Iron Dome interceptor missiles exploding in the air.

The Israel Defense Forces said both rockets were downed by the air defense system.

There were no reports of injuries or damage.

The rocket fire came following the deaths of nine Palestinians during an IDF raid against a Palestinian Islamic Jihad cell in the northern West Bank city of Jenin Thursday morning.

Both Islamic Jihad and the Hamas terror group that rules the Gaza Strip threatened to hit back over the deaths.

A senior officer told reporters after the raid that the IDF was “ready and prepared for any scenario,” including possible rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, in response to the deadly clashes.

Over the past year, Islamic Jihad has launched rockets at Israel in response to members being killed or arrested in the West Bank.

Still, there was no immediate claim by any of the Gaza-based terror groups for the rocket fire Thursday.

According to Israeli officials, the IDF had foiled a “ticking time bomb” in Jenin on Thursday after receiving “accurate intelligence” from the Shin Bet security agency about the cell’s hideout apartment in the camp.

Nine Palestinians — including several members of the Islamic Jihad cell, other gunmen, and at least one uninvolved civilian — were killed, and another 20 were wounded in the clashes.

The clashes on Thursday morning marked the deadliest Israeli raid in the West Bank in years.

People gather around a building damaged by Israeli troops as they sought to thwart an imminent terror attack in the West Bank’s Jenin refugee camp, January 26, 2023. (JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)

Separately on Thursday afternoon, a Palestinian man was killed in clashes with Israeli troops in the town of a-Ram, north of Jerusalem, the PA Health Ministry said.

Tensions have recently soared in the West Bank as the IDF presses on with an anti-terror offensive mostly focused on the northern West Bank to deal with a series of attacks that left 31 people in Israel dead in 2022.

Jenin is widely seen by Israeli military officials as a hotbed of terrorist activity, and has been the focus of many of the raids.

The IDF’s operation has netted more than 2,500 arrests in near-nightly raids. It also left 171 Palestinians dead in 2022, and, as of Thursday, another 30 since the beginning of the year, many of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, though some were uninvolved civilians.

Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians who were killed by Israeli security forces during an operation, in the West Bank city of Jenin on January 26, 2023. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

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.

The last time a rocket was fired from the coastal enclave toward Israel was on January 3, following Hamas threats to retaliate against National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir paying a visit to the flashpoint Temple Mount site, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The rocket failed to cross the border.

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