Israel Warns Gaza Will Pay 'Heavy Price' if Rocket Fire Continues

Israeli strikes target Gaza after rocket fired at south on Tuesday night.

Rockets being fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, during Operation Protective Edge.
Ilan Asayag

IDF aircraft struck four targets in the southern Gaza Strip before dawn on Wednesday, after a rocket was fired from the Strip on southern Israel on Tuesday evening.

The Israel Defense Forces issued a short statement saying it had struck militant infrastructure in the southern Gaza Strip, in response to the rocket fire. The statement concluded by placing responsibility for the firing of the rocket on Hamas.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Wednesday that "Israel has no intention of ignoring rocket fire on its citizens, the likes of which was perpetrated by the Islamic Jihad last night."

Ya'alon warned that Gaza "will pay a heavy price" should the violence escalate.  

"Hamas better restrain any attempts to open fire toward Israel or provoke it; otherwise we will have to act more forcefully," Ya'alon said in a statement. "I wouldn't advise anyone to test us."

According to reports in Gaza, the Israeli military struck Islamic Jihad and Hamas training facilities in Rafah and Khan Yunis in the Strip's south, and Beit Lahia in the north. No casualties were reported as the facilities were empty after a warning was issued overnight.

According to the Palestinian Ma'an news agency, efforts were made with Egyptian involvement to ask Israel to restrain its retaliation to the rocket fire and avoid escalation.

Sirens sounded

At least one projectile was fired from Gaza on Tuesday, exploding in an open area near the port city of Ashdod, some 20 kilometers north of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli security officials said they believe that the rocket was fired by the military wing of Islamic Jihad, apparently following an internal dispute within its ranks over the appointment of a new military wing commander in north Gaza. 

No damage was reported, but medical services said a 15-year-old girl from Ashdod arrived at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon suffering from shock.

The Home Front Command reissued instructions to the public following the rocket fire, highlighting the importance of finding a protected area and remaining there for ten minutes after the alarm sounds.

In Ashdod, schools were set to operate as normal on Wednesday, aside from institutions that don't have safe rooms.