IDF said to warn Hamas of harsh response if attacks continue

Two rockets fired at Israel from Gaza, one intercepted by Iron Dome

Warning sirens send thousands running for shelter during Sabbath dinner, several homes lightly damaged by shrapnel; earlier 3 mortars fired into Israel; IDF tank hits Hamas post

Rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, November 12, 2019. (Khalil Hamra/AP)
Rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, November 12, 2019. (Khalil Hamra/AP)

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket into Israel on Friday evening, which was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile system, the IDF said.

Rocket warning sirens wailed Friday evening in the southern town of Sderot and  nearby communities sending thousands of Israelis running to bomb shelters during their Sabbath dinner.

Hebrew media reports said several homes were lightly damaged by falling shrapnel from the interception. there were no reports of injuries.

About two hours later warning sirens sounded again in Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak and Kibbutz Sufa.  The IDF said it identified a further rocket launch toward Israel. The projectile fell into an open area, causing no damage or injuries.

The IDF warned Hamas, which controls Gaza, that if the recent spate of violence is not halted the military will respond with increasing force, Channel 13 quoted military officials as saying.

Earlier Friday, three mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, the IDF said. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted one of the projectiles, while the other two struck open areas.

There were no reports of casualties or damage.

In response to the attack, an IDF tank fired a shell at a Hamas observation post near the border in southern Gaza, the military said.

The mortar attack did not trigger sirens inside Israeli communities as it was heading for an unpopulated area, but it did set off alarms on smartphone applications in the area, the military said.

Early Friday, the Israel Air Force carried out strikes in Gaza in response to three rockets fired from the Palestinian enclave at Israel.

The army said among the targets hit was an underground facility used to manufacture weapons. No injuries were reported as a result of the strikes. Widespread power outages were reported in Rafah.

Masked Palestinians prepare an incendiary device with what appears to be gas canisters and balloons to be flown into Israel, near the Israel-Gaza border east of Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, January 22, 2020. (Ail Ahmed/Flash90)

Tensions between Israel and Gaza have been steadily rising over the past two weeks after several months of relative calm. Fears have mounted in recent days of an escalation of violence in Gaza and the West Bank following the release of a US peace plan that is seen as heavily favoring Israel.

Two of the rockets fired at Israel late Thursday were shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense system. The third landed in an open area. There was no claim of responsibility but the army said it holds Hamas, the de facto ruler in the Strip, responsible for any violence emanating from the enclave.

A three-week-old girl was hospitalized with moderate head injuries after being hurt during a rush to a bomb shelter in Sderot. The girl’s mother, 30, was also hospitalized with light injuries, according to emergency services. Officials said the girl’s condition improved Friday morning.

Israel carried out airstrikes in southern Gaza on Thursday afternoon in response to cross-border sniper fire at an IDF post and after a bundle of balloons connected to an explosive device were found in the area of the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.

On Wednesday night a mortar was fired from Gaza at Israel, prompting retaliatory airstrikes.

On Wednesday evening, the military announced it was deploying additional troops to the Gaza border and West Bank amid concerns that Palestinians may respond violently to the peace plan, which was released on Tuesday.

Palestinian leaders have rejected the plan.

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