Text size

Israel Defense Forces warplanes on Tuesday attacked the southern Gaza Strip near its border with Egypt, several hours after a rocket fired from the coastal territory exploded in the yard of a western Negev home.

An IDF spokesman said Israel targeted four border tunnels and two sites in Gaza where weapons were produced, in response to rocket and mortar fire aimed at Israel from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

It was the first time Israel has attacked the Islamic militant group since a Jan. 18 ceasefire went into effect.

Palestinian medics said a woman in Gaza suffered moderate wounds from one of several air strikes against tunnels Israel says are used to smuggle weapons into the coastal territory.

The Qassam fired just hours before struck between two houses in the Negev town of Sderot on Tuesday, causing extensive damage to one building and lightly wounding an 18-year-old in the other house. The teenager was taken to hospital with shrapnel wounds in his back.

The rocket was the first to hit the region after more than a week of relative calm. Sderot itself has not been struck in almost two months.

Nissim Peretz, the owner of the house near which the Qassam hit said: "I was sitting outside with my wife and daughter. All of a sudden we heard 'color red.'

"I called to everybody to run to the security room. A few seconds later we heard a big explosion and we ran to see where the Qassam hit. Our house shook, windows were broken and there was a lot of damage...We shouldn't have left Gaza until we ended [the rockets]. Today we're paying the price for the mistakes the government made because of the elections."

Sderot Mayor David Buskila came to the site of the Qassasm strike together with the mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, and Noam Shalit, the father of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

"The government of Israel has to maintain its sovereignty. I'm not a security adviser and I don't tell the government how to operate, but all we're asking for is quiet," Buskila said.

"Unfortunately, we went through quite a few incidents like this during the war," Noam Shalit said, referring to the Second Lebanon War. "I don't envy the people of Sderot and I hope they have quiet."

No Palestinian group has yet claimed responsibility for the rocket, but it was apparently launched by a small militant group and not by Hamas.

Two days before the previous rocket struck the Negev on May 10, a Hamas official told reporters that the group was considering declaring a long-term ceasefire with Israel. Another Hamas official later denied the report, though said talks on a cease-fire could resume soon.

That report came amid a series of mortar shell and rocket strikes on Israel, despite Hamas' declaration that its militants had ceased to take part in cross-border attacks.

An Israeli air strike responding to mortar fire from Gaza killed two Palestinians on May 2. That attack also targeted tunnels beneath the Gaza-Egypt border.