Rocket launched from Gaza at southern Israel after deadly West Bank raid
IDF says projectile lands close to security barrier; launch comes after Jenin anti-terror operation that left six Palestinians dead, including deadly Huwara terror suspect
A rocket launch from the Gaza Strip set off alert sirens in southern Israel during the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday morning, as security forces were on high alert following a deadly raid against terrorists in the West Bank.
The sirens went off at the Nir Am Shooting Range, close to the kibbutz of the same name, and near the city of Sderot next to the northern part of Gaza.
The Israel Defense Forces initially said a rocket that had been fired from Gaza landed within the confines of the Strip, but later confirmed that it had landed in Israeli territory, close to the border fence.
Surveillance camera footage showed the rocket being launched from Gaza.
On Tuesday, police in Jerusalem and surrounding areas were put on increased alert amid fears Palestinians would attempt to exact revenge for the raid by Israeli troops in Jenin that left six dead.
The move was announced hours after Israeli troops entered Jenin and surrounded a house as they hunted the suspected terrorist who killed two Israelis in the West Bank last week. The incursion set off a gunbattle that left six Palestinians dead, including Abdel Fattah Hussein Kharousha, 49, the wanted terrorist.
Kharousha, a Hamas member from the Askar refugee camp near Nablus, opened fire on an Israeli car driving through the northern West Bank town of Huwara on February 26, killing Israeli brothers Hallel and Yagel Yaniv. The Hamas terror group rules the Gaza Strip.
The other five Palestinians killed were members of terror groups, including another Hamas member, a Palestinian Islamic Jihad member, and three claimed to be members of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a terror group loosely affiliated with the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party.
Over the past year, Gaza-based groups — notably Islamic Jihad — have launched rockets at Israel in response to members being killed or arrested in the West Bank.
Palestinian health officials said another 12 people were injured in the Jenin raid, three seriously.
Three officers of the police Yamam counterterrorism unit were injured, one moderately and two lightly.
Troops also raided Nablus, arresting the two sons of the alleged Huwara killer, Khaled and Muhammed Kharousha, the IDF said.
According to the Shin Bet, the pair were suspected of planning and helping carry out the February 26 attack in Huwara.
Late last month, Palestinians fired six rockets into southern Israel in an apparent revenge attack for a deadly Israeli incursion into Nablus. The rockets did not cause injuries or damage and Islamic Jihad later claimed responsibility.
The IDF carried out airstrikes against the Hamas terror group in response.
Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been high for the past year, with the IDF conducting near-nightly raids in the West Bank amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks. Those tensions have ramped up in recent weeks amid a cycle of Israeli raids and Palestinian revenge attacks, as well as an uptick in settler violence.
Following the Huwara shooting, a group of radical settlers rampaged through the town, burning homes and vehicles. A Palestinian man was killed in unclear circumstances and multiple people were injured in violence that shocked many in Israel and abroad, with some terming the incident a “pogrom.”
A string of Palestinian attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank in recent months left 14 Israelis dead and several more seriously hurt.
At least 70 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year, most of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.