Rocket Hits Israeli City of Sderot, on Gaza Border; IDF Responds With Airstrikes

A local Gaza group that identifies with ISIS's ideology claims responsibility for the rocket fire, which is seen as a challenge to Hamas in Gaza.

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A police officer carries a rocket that landed in Sderot, Israel, August 21, 2016.
A police officer carries a rocket that landed in Sderot, Israel, August 21, 2016.Credit: Ilan Assayag

A rocket fired from Gaza hit just outside of a house in the southern Israeli city of Sderot on Sunday afternoon, sparking IDF retaliation in the form of airstrikes and artillery barrages.

No casualties or damages were reported in Sderot, but Palestinian sources said that five Gazans were wounded in some 20 retaliatory strikes.

Police at the scene of the rocket attack in Sderot, Israel, August 21, 2016.Credit: Israel Police

A Gazan organization by the name of Ahfad al-Sahaba-Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis claimed responsibility the rocket fire in Israel. The group is affiliated with Salafi groups that identify with the ideology of ISIS, the Islamic State organization, and from time to time it attempts to fire rockets in a challenge of sorts to Hamas, the Islamist organization that governs the Gaza Strip.

Israel responded with airstrikes and tank fire. The IDF said the air force struck "a number" of Hamas targets, while Palestinian eyewitnesses reported that an Israeli tank fired six shells at a water storage facility.

Palestinian media reported that Israel had targeted sites affiliated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another group armed with projectiles in the Gaza Strip.

Rocket sirens sounded in Sderot and nearby communities on the Gaza border, at 2:25 P.M. Minutes later rocket debris was found in a street in Sderot.

Yaron Shadadi, a Sderot resident whose home suffered a direct hit in 2012, told Haaretz that he and his family were at home when the rocket was fired and ran to the shelter in their home when they heard the sirens. They then heard a dull thud, he said, and thought it was from an explosion at some distance away, but they then discovered that it had fallen near a neighbor's home and had apparently not exploded.

Shmaryahu Nagar, who also lives very near the site where the rocket fell, told Haaretz the rocket fell next to the home of a young couple who were not home at the time. Nagar was at home with his son and the son alerted him to the rocket warning. The two ran to their secure room, he said, and then "there was a kind of noise of a strange screech and a boom."

Last month, a rocket fired from Gaza hit an early childhood development center in Sderot. Nearby buildings were also damaged, but no casualties were reported. The Israel Air Force at the time hit what the Israeli army said were four Hamas targets in southern and central Gaza.

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