Israel Strikes Hamas Targets in Gaza After Rocket Explodes in Sderot

ISIS-affiliated Salafist organization in Gaza claims responsibility for rocket fire, which left none wounded.

Security forces respond after rocket alarm sirens sound in Sderot, Israel, October 5, 2016.
Security forces respond after rocket alarm sirens sound in Sderot, Israel, October 5, 2016.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

A rocket fired from Gaza exploded in the Israeli border city of Sderot on Wednesday morning after sirens sounded in the border communities. No injuries were reported.

According to Magen David Adom emergency responders, a 15-year-old girl and a 60-year-old man were treated for shock.

An hour after the rocket struck, the IDF responded with tank fire and later airstrikes that were aimed at four Hamas targets and infrastructure belonging to the organization in Khan Younis in the northern Strip and in Gaza City. No casualties were reported.

Smoke rising from Gaza following Israeli airstrikes, October 5, 2016. Credit: Jack Guez, AFP

The IDF's Spokesperson's Unit said that Israeli fire was aimed at Hamas targets in the northern and southern Strip. According to reports from Gaza, most of the strikes were aimed at a certain area in the Zeitoun neighborhood in the eastern side of Gaza city.

The Salafist group Ahfad al-Sahaba knaf Bayt al-Maqdis, which has sworn allegiance to Islamic State, claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. The group issued a statement saying that the shooting was carried out as "part of the consistent jihad against the Jews" and following the arrest of four of its operatives by Hamas a few days ago.

Hamas said that it "condemns the Israeli aggression and warns that we won't stand idle if and when the escalation continues." The Islamic Jihad group also released a statement saying that "we have no intention of escalating the situation and we aren’t interested in confrontation, but the resistance forces are ready for any scenario."

The rocket fire followed reports that Israeli forces fired at farmers east of Gaza City early Wednesday.

Wednesday's was the first such incident in Israel's southern border region since mid-September, when a mortar shell struck an open area in the southern Eshkol Regional Council, causing no damages or injuries. In response, the Israel Air Force struck three "terrorist infrastructure" sites belonging to Hamas in the northern Strip, the military said.

Around the same time, a mortar shell fell in Israeli territory in the Golan Heights in what the military said was an apparent spillover from the fighting in Syria. No damage or injuries were reported.

In August, Israel conducted dozens of aerial and artillery strikes in Gaza, wounding five Palestinians, after a rocket fired from the Strip hit a residential area in Sderot. No casualties or damages were reported.

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