The Israeli Air Force (IAF), conducted several airstrikes on Hamas positions in Gaza after the Palestinians launched a rocket attack in southern Israel this weekend. 

According to WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency, Israeli planes hit numerous targets in southern, eastern, and western Gaza, late Saturday night and early Sunday morning. The strikes caused property damage but no casualties were reported. WAFA added that the airstrikes were in retaliation for rockets being fired on “an illegal Israeli settlement near the Gaza Strip.”

According to WAFA,  Israeli aircraft fired three rockets at a Hamas site to the west of Gaza City, destroying it and causing damages to properties located adjacently. 

Israeli aircraft then struck a Hamas outpost in Tal al-Hawa neighborhood, west of Gaza City, with a pair of missiles, completely destroying it and causing damage to neighboring residential facilities. WAFA also claimed that IAF aircraft targeted an agricultural area east of the city with five rockets which also caused damage to nearby civilian properties. 

In south Gaza, IDF aircraft fired five rockets at two sites to the west of the cities of Khan Younis and Rafah, destroying both sites and causing damage to neighboring properties.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) stated on Twitter that the airstrikes were in response to the rocket fire emanating from Gaza against southern Israel. 

The IDF stated that a rocket was fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip on Saturday evening. Warning sirens sounded in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon shortly afterward. No damage or casualties were reported. None of the armed groups in Gaza have claimed responsibility. 

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum blamed the new escalation on Israel.

“The Israeli occupation is the prime responsible [sic] for everything that happens in Gaza as it continues to blockade it and carry out attacks. The resistance is only acting in self-defense,” Barhoum said.

Israel and Hamas had reached an agreement at the end of September that was supposed to end all hostilities. Nevertheless, attacks have continued. Both sides accuse the other of violating the agreement although the Israeli government has not publicly acknowledged any agreement and will not meet with the Hamas ruling authorities.

Meanwhile, the IDF conducted a large-scale military exercise near the border with Gaza. Israeli troops took part in a mock war scenario inside of Gaza, according to the Israeli news website i24. Both veteran soldiers and conscripts took part in the exercises. 

The Chief of Staff of the IDF, Aviv Kochavi, was quoted as saying that these military exercises were planned several weeks ago. “During the exercise, the [Gaza] division’s abilities to handle a variety of events, while cooperating between branches of the military [were] tested,” the IDF said in a released statement.

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