Rocket Fired From Gaza Hits Open Area in South Israel

Salafist group sympathetic to ISIS claims responsibility for Saturday attack; Israel responds with air strikes on targets in northern Gaza, closure of border crossings.

Rockets being launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel.
Rockets being launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, August 23, 2014. Reuters

A rocket exploded in an open area in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council in southern Israel on Saturday evening. 

No damage was reported. The remains of the rocket were found Sunday morning in a field near a community in Hof Ashkelon.

Rocket alerts sounded in towns within the council and the city of Ashkelon around 9:38 P.M. Residents reported hearing at least one explosion.

A Salafist group calling itself the Omar Brigades, which identifies with ISIS, claimed responsibility for the rocket fire on Twitter later Saturday night. The group said it would not abide by an informal truce agreed between Hamas and Israel after last summer's 50-day Gaza war, adding that that the rockets were a reminder to Hamas that Israel, not the Salafists, were "the enemy."

In response, Israel Air Force struck “terror infrastructure” targets in northern Gaza Strip overnight, according to a statement released just before 4 A.M. by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. 

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon also ordered the closure of both the Erez and Kerem Shalom border crossings between Israel and the Strip. According to the IDF, "the decision on when to re-open the crossings will be made based on situation assessment and in accordance with security considerations."

The Israel Defense Forces deployed Iron Dome missile defense batteries in several locations in the south during the past week following several incidents of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli territory.

Three rockets were fired at Israel on Wednesday evening, two of which exploded in open areas in a community near the Gaza border, and the third in the Ashkelon area.

Israeli defense officials believe that the rocket fire was the result of internal strife between Hamas and a Salafist group. After the rocket fire, Israel Air Force jets struck three Hamas targets in the Strip.