Escalation in the south || IDF strikes Gaza sites in response to Hamas rocket fire
The IDF retaliated to a barrage of rockets on southern Israel by hitting sites including a mosque; Palestinians said 16 civilians injured in Gaza strikes since Sunday.
The Israel Defense Forces struck a number of sites in the Gaza Strip on Monday, including one located in a mosque, in response to continued rocket and mortar fire by Hamas and Islamic Jihad toward southern Israel throughout the morning.
In a statement released Monday, the IDF spokesperson said that the IDF hit "a number of terror cells and targets of the terrorist organization Hamas in the Gaza Strip, in response to the rockets fired this morning toward territory of the state of Israel."
The target located in a mosque, the IDF spokesperson said, "Is part of the use the organization (Hamas) makes of religious sites for terror activities."
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In an unusual move, the military wing of Hamas, along with the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for firing some 50 mortar shells and rockets toward the western Negev area on Monday morning. They said in a statement that they were responding to the IDF targeting two militants in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, reportedly killing one of them, and injuring 11 civilian bystanders.
Monday morning's rockets and mortars landed in open fields in the Eshkol Regional Council, with three reportedly hitting Kerem Shalom. Shrapnel from the shells caused damage to some residential buildings, but no injuries were reported.
Palestinian officials said that another five civilians in Gaza were wounded as a result of the IDF strikes on Monday morning.
A spokesman for the Health Ministry in the Hamas government, Dr. Ashraf al-Kodra, told reporters on Monday that Israel had shelled areas east of Khan Younis in Gaza, and that of the five civilians that were injured, one was in serious condition.
The Ministry of Education also announced the evacuation of five Gaza Strip schools. On Sunday evening, Palestinian officials said that Israel shelled areas in Rafah, injuring 11 civilians, including women and children.