IDF Fires Back in Response to Rockets Attacks From Gaza

3 Palestinian wounded in Israeli airstrikes a day after rocket attack on southern Israel; Prime Minister Netanyahu threatens large-scale operation against militants.

Three Palestinians were wounded early Monday in three successive Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip in response to an earlier rocket attack launched toward southern Israel from the coastal enclave, witnesses said.

They said that Israeli helicopters and F-16 warplanes were heard around midnight over the Gaza Strip, followed by three successive explosions in the northern and southern parts of the territory.

Security sources for the Islamist organization Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, said that Israeli helicopters struck an empty military training camp for Hamas militants in eastern Gaza city, with no casualties reported.

The sources said that fighter jets rocketed a smuggling tunnel under the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, with shrapnel from the Israeli missile hitting a nearby house where three civilians were wounded.

An Israeli missile blasted an empty agricultural field in the northern Gaza Strip, with no injuries or damages reported.

Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman of the Hamas-run Health Ministry, told reporters that three civilians were slightly wounded in the airstrike on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

The Israeli attacks were a response to an earlier rocket attack on the southern Israel town of Beer Sheba, where one of the rockets destroyed a house. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier threatened a large-scale military operation against the rocket-launching militants in the Gaza Strip.

Israel held Hamas fully responsible for the rocket attack, though other minor radical Salafist groups had recently taken responsibility for the rocket attacks.

Gaza - Reuters - 12.3.2012