The Israeli military attacked the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning in response to rocket fire from the coastal enclave, a military spokesperson said, shattering a two-month lull that prevailed along the Gaza-Israel fence in contrast to soaring tensions in the West Bank.
Overnight into Saturday, a rocket was fired into southern Israel triggering rocket alarms in the city of Ashkelon and Israeli communities along the Gaza border. The Israeli military said the Iron Dome missile defense system had intercepted the rocket. There were no reports of casualties.
In response to the rocket fire, the military said it had struck a Hamas weapon manufacturing facility and three outposts in the coastal enclave.
No militant group in the besieged enclave has yet claimed responsibility for the launch. However, a spokesperson for the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad said on Saturday that the organization has commenced a large-scale training operation across the Gaza Strip which includes combat and artillery training. The spokesperson said that the purpose of the operation is to prepare troops for every scenario which might occur during a war.
However, other groups in the Strip, including Hamas, have not been preparing for another round of fighting, and Israel is unlikely to spark the flames as it is reluctant to enter any conflicts ahead of U.S. President Biden's upcoming visit.
In late April, two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel, with both exploding inside the enclave. An unspecified projectile was launched shortly after towards Israel, landing in an open area. Rocket sirens were not triggered.
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An Israeli military raid in the West Bank early Friday, in which three Palestinian militants were killed and eight wounded, could have triggered the rocket attack from Gaza.
Also on Friday, an Israeli observation balloon crashed and fell in northern Gaza Strip. The Israeli military said it investigates the incident, but clarified the balloon was not downed by Palestinian militants.