Israel Strikes Hamas Targets in Gaza After Intercepting Rocket

Escalation follows Israeli Army's announcement of a full maritime blockade on the Strip

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File photo: Iron dome system intercepts rockets fired from Gaza, August, 2019.
File photo: Iron dome system intercepts rockets fired from Gaza, August, 2019. Credit: Ilan Assayag

The Israeli army said it struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip following interception of a rocket fired at Israeli border-communities early Thursday morning. The escalation follows an Israeli decision to impose a maritime blockade on the Strip after continued launching of incendiary balloons from Gaza into Israel.

Five fires broke out in the Eshkol Regional Council, along the Gaza border, where two other firebombs exploded over greenhouses, Israeli firefighting services said on Wednesday. Two other fires broke out in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council and one in Netivot, also close to the border with Gaza. 

The rocket is the first to be launched at Israel since a ceasefire agreement  was reached between the two sides in early May. At the time, nearly 700 rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel while Israel carried out airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. It was the largest outbreak of violence since the 2014 Gaza war, resulting in 4 Israelis and 25 Palestinians killed. 

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Last week, Gaza officials warned of escalation over Israel's 'foot-dragging' in implementing the ceasefire agreement. A senior official told Haaretz that Palestinian factions, including Hamas, are demanding the transfer of additional funds from Qatar, a further easing on the import of dual-purpose goods from Israel, and progress on humanitarian projects.