Iron Dome intercepts rocket fired at Israel from Gaza, no injuries

Warning sirens go off in the Eshkol and Kissufim regions near the south of the Strip, days after worst violence since 2014

Illustrative: Flames from rockets fired by Palestinians are seen over Gaza Strip heading toward Israel, in the early morning of May 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Illustrative: Flames from rockets fired by Palestinians are seen over Gaza Strip heading toward Israel, in the early morning of May 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

The army’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted a rocket fired at southern Israel by a terrorist group in the Gaza Strip on Saturday night, the military said.

A second rocket was also launched around the same time, but appeared to fall on the Palestinian side of the Gaza border, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The launches appear to be the first violation of a fragile ceasefire in effect since Wednesday morning, but comes after a weekend of intense violence along the Gaza border.

The two rocket launches triggered sirens in Israel’s Eshkol region, near the south of the Strip, shortly before the end of Shabbat. The sirens come as Israeli firefighters were battling huge fires in along the border caused by Palestinian fire kites.

Palestinian protesters fly a kite with a burning rag dangling from its tail to during a protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, Friday, April 20, 2018. Activists use kites with burning rags dangling from their tails to set ablaze drying wheat fields on the Israeli side. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)

A spokesperson for the Eshkol region said it appeared that no injuries or damage were caused by the debris from the interception of the rocket, but authorities were still searching the area.

The Eshkol spokesperson said no special instructions were given to residents of the area in light of the rocket launches.

On the Palestinian side of the border thousands attended a funeral for a young female volunteer medic, who Palestinians say was shot and killed by the IDF while tending the injured during violent protests on the Gaza border.

The Israeli army on Friday said the violence included “thousands of rioters” at five locations along the border, “burning tires adjacent to the security fence and attempting to damage security infrastructure.”

Shots were fired at an army vehicle and a Palestinian had crossed into Israel, planted a grenade and returned to Gaza, the army said.

After the funeral, dozens of mourners headed to the fence and started throwing stones at the Israeli soldiers on the other side. The Hamas-run health ministry said five protesters were wounded by Israeli fire.

Israeli firefighters extinguish a fire in a wheat field caused from kites flown by Palestinian protesters, near the border with the Gaza Strip, May 30, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The border tensions comes following a week that saw the worst escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas since the 2014 war in Gaza. Earlier this week, Palestinian terror groups fired over 100 rockets and mortars at towns and cities in southern Israel. The Israel Defense Forces responded with dozens of airstrikes on Hamas military targets. After almost 24 hours of fire, a tacit understanding and unofficial ceasefire began, though both sides have described it as fragile.

Israel says it is facing weekly attacks by violent protesters at the border. It says the riots are orchestrated by the Hamas terror group, which rules Gaza, and are used as cover for attempted terror attacks and breaches of the border fence.

Firefighters were working to put out three large fires along the Gaza Strip border, believed to have been started by incendiary kites flown from the coastal enclave on Saturday.

The largest fire was near to Kibbutz Carmia, adjacent to the northern Gaza Strip. Preliminary estimates suggested that between 2,000 to 3,000 dunams (500 to 740 acres) of fields and parts of a nature reserve adjacent to the kibbutz were destroyed.

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