Palestinian terrorists fired a rocket toward the southern coastal city of Ashkelon in the early hours of Saturday, the first projectile to be launched at Israel from Hamas-ruled Gaza since April.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, the rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
The IDF later struck targets in the Gaza Strip in response — the retaliatory airstrikes were not immediate, but instead the military waited for daylight hours.
The rocket was fired shortly after 3 a.m. and warning sirens were activated in Ashkelon, along with several agricultural communities close to the Gaza border.
There were no reports of injuries or damage and no terror group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
Hours later, the IDF said fighter jets and other aircraft struck a weapon production facility at a Hamas military site in central Gaza, as well as three observation posts close to the border.
Video posted to social media showed fireballs and smoke rising from the site in central Gaza following the airstrikes.
One of the observation posts was previously widely reported on by Hebrew-language media due to its proximity to the border community of Netiv HaAsara.
Residents were concerned about the relatively tall post overlooking a wall that is meant to protect the town from attacks.
In images and footage, the post appeared to be heavily damaged following two strikes, but was still mostly standing.
Israel was examining whether the rocket was fired overnight by Islamic Jihad terrorists in response to the deaths of three Palestinians killed in a gunfight with Israeli troops early Friday in Jenin, the Walla news site reported without citing a source.
According to the military, the soldiers were fired upon while operating in the northern West Bank city and “neutralized” the gunmen who shot at them.
The projectile was the first to be launched at Israel from Hamas-ruled Gaza since late April. In response to that attack, Israel closed its sole pedestrian crossing with Gaza for two days, barring 12,000 Palestinian laborers from entering.
צהל תקף הבוקר מהאוויר את העמדה שהטרידה את תושבי נתיב העשרה. העמדה נפגעה, אבל עדיין עומדת. pic.twitter.com/ECRcy4sqx5
— almog boker (@bokeralmog) June 18, 2022
The latest rocket attack came a day after the IDF touted new defensive measures as key to preserving one of the quietest periods along the Gaza border in years, while warning Hamas is working to circumvent them in a potential surprise attack just over a year after the sides fought an 11-day conflict.
Also Friday, an IDF observation balloon crashed in Gaza under disputed circumstances. Palestinian media reports claimed the balloon was shot down, while the military said it became disconnected from its anchor for unknown reasons.