Israel Strikes Gaza in Response to Rocket Fire

Israeli air force jets destroy a Hamas weapons depot, the army said, as Palestinians report fire exchange between Israeli forces and armed Palestinians in Jenin

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The Israeli Iron Dome missile defense system (L) intercepts rockets (R) fired by the Hamas movement seen in the sky above the Gaza Strip in May.
The Israeli Iron Dome missile defense system (L) intercepts rockets (R) fired by the Hamas movement seen in the sky above the Gaza Strip in May. Credit: ANAS BABA / AFP

The Israeli air force attacked southern Gaza Monday in response to a rocket launched from the Strip earlier in the day, according to the military spokesperson.

The Israeli army said that air force fighter jets destroyed a weapons manufacturing workshop belonging to Hamas. Hamas said that militants responded with anti-aircraft weapons, but failed to hit the Israeli jets. No injuries were reported.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces and armed Palestinians clashed and exchanged fire in West Bank city of Jenin, according to Palestinian reports.

Despite security assessments indicating that Monday's rocket was fired by the Islamic Jihad, the military said it "holds Hamas accountable for what's happening in Gaza."

Following the Israeli attack, Hamas spokesperson Hazem Kassem said that "the struggle against occupation is a legitimate right anywhere in Gaza, the West Bank and within the Green Line." Kassem also said that Israel's "strike of empty targets is a failed attempt to stop the Palestinian people from protecting Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque."

Earlier on Monday Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted a missile from the Gaza Strip, according to the IDF, in the first rocket launch for the enclave in four months.

There were no reports of injuries, according to Israel's emergency service Magen David Adom.

According to reports in the enclave, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have vacated their headquarters in anticipation of an Israeli response.

Hamas, the militant group in charge of the Gaza Strip, and Islamic Jihad have recently threatened to strike Israel after spiking tensions in Jerusalem, and in particular the incursion of Israeli security personnel into Al-Aqsa Mosque. No group took immediate responsibility for the rocket strike.

Although Israel's intelligence establishment does not believe that recent escalations will spill over into war, the IDF's Southern Command has nevertheless been prepared for the possibility of an escalation.

The last time rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip four months ago, the IDF responded by striking various Hamas targets in the Strip. This time, however, the army reportedly realizes that the timing will limit its options in responding to the launch. During the interim days of Passover, the border area near the Gaza Strip is flooded with vacationers, with numerous festivals and other special events attracting crowds.

In addition, the IDF’s main operational focus is now on the seam line between Israel and the West Bank. After the recent spate of terror attacks, the army is focused on preventing further attacks, and in preparing for a planned march Tuesday to the illegal outpost at the evacuated settlement of Homesh in the northern West Bank.

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