Israel Attacks Hamas Site in Gaza

Defense Minister Ya'alon says strike targeted cement factory used to rebuild tunnels; Hamas warns Israel against further attacks.

Avi Scharf

The Israel Air Force attacked a Hamas installation in the Gaza Strip Friday night after a rocket was launched from the coastal enclave into Israel earlier on Friday.

This is the first Israeli attack in Gaza since the war between the Strip and Israel this summer, dubbed Operation Protective Edge by the Israel military.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Saturday that the IAF strike targeted a cement factory that was used to rebuild tunnels that led into Israel. The strike, he said, sent "a clear message to Hamas" that Israel will not tolerate continued rocket fire.

"We consider Hamas responsible for what is going on in the Strip, and we will respond resolutely if it fails to prevent rocket fire toward Israel," he said.

The Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported that an Israeli aircraft fired rockets at a military installation northwest of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip. According to the report no-one was injured in the attack.

According to the Palestinians, the attack caused a blackout in several areas in the Strip.

The IDF said that the attack was launched in response to a rocket that was fired on Friday from Gaza and exploded in an open area in Eshkol Regional Council in southern Israel, close to the Gaza border. No injuries or damage were reported in this incident.

This was the first rocket fired at Israel since November 1, and the third projectile fired at Israel since Operation Protective Edge.

 Haim Yelin, the head of the council, said that "whoever thinks that military deterrence is the route to peace and quiet for the Gaza bordering regions doesn't understand that wars are won by diplomats...

"After Protective Edge, the state had a unique opportunity to bring about a long-term settlement. But instead we find ourselves with a ticking clock until the next round of escalation, and the next war."

Hamas issued a statement on Saturday warning Israel against further attacks in the Gaza Strip, terming Friday's air strike a "stupid act," and a serious escalation and breach of the calm between the Palestinian factions and Israel.

Hamas called on the international community to act against Israel to stop the aggression against the Palestinian people. 

Ilan Assayag

Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh, meanwhile, called on Egypt to intervene immediately to prevent Israel from repeating what he defined as a violation of the cease-fire agreement.

Haniyeh made the remarks while visiting the family of a militant belonging to the Al-Qassam brigades, Hamas' military wing, who was killed earlier this week, evidently while handling explosives.