Israel Strikes Hamas in Gaza After Iron Dome Intercepts Rocket

Rocket sirens sound near southern city of Ashkelon ■ Incident comes day after air force attacks several Hamas targets over suspicious balloons

An IDF strike on Gaza, November 2018.
Hatem Moussa/AP

The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel Sunday overnight after rocket sirens sounded near the southern city of Ashkelon. The Israeli military said it struck several Hamas targets in northern Gaza in response.

Earlier on Sunday, an Israeli military helicopter attacked two Hamas positions in Gaza in response to a suspicious cluster of balloons launched from the Strip earlier in the day, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said. More attacks on the Strip were reported later in the day.

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In late December, an IDF helicopter struck a Hamas target in southern Gaza after a rocket launched from the Strip fell into an open area near Israel's southern communities.

Besides these incident, the border has been relatively quiet since the latest escalation nearly two months ago, when some 460 rockets and missiles were fired from Gaza into Israel. The IDF retaliated by attacking more than 160 targets including buildings belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, killing a total of seven in the Gaza Strip. 

The Israeli army announced Thursday that it would disconnect all private smarphone apps that had previously been given access to data about rocket and mortar attacks from the Gaza Strip, fearing those apps could spread misleading information and false alerts.

There are multiple private applications that use the data the IDF's Home Front Command in order to alert residents to the warning sirens that blare ahead of incoming missiles and rockets from Gaza during periods of conflict. However, the military says that due to technical glitches, the information they spread often arrives late and sometimes sends false alerts.

The IDF said that the decision to disconnect the apps came after citizens complained that the false alerts were creating confusion among users. The military recommends using the Home Front Command's official app, which it says delivers reliable, real-time alerts to users.