Israel’s military conducted airstrikes in the Gaza Strip after Hamas militants fired rockets from inside Gaza.
Two rockets triggered alarm sirens at 2:00 a.m. in the city of Ashdod and Kibbutz Palmachim as well as in several central Israeli communities. Both of the rockets landed in open areas and no casualties were reported.
The Israeli’s Iron Dome missile defense system fired at both rockets. Shrapnel from one of the Iron Dome rockets fell in Bat Yam south of Tel Aviv, Mayor Zvika Brot reported.
No one has claimed responsibility for the rocket attack. However, the Israeli news service Haaretz reported that Hamas stated that lightning from a storm had accidentally caused the rocket launch.
“This morning, the IDF attacked Hamas infrastructure and targets in the Gaza Strip,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “We will not accept any attacks against the State of Israel and the citizens of Israel.
“I warn the terror organizations in Gaza, even during the Corona crisis — do not test us. I never list our operational plans, but I’m warning them — the price of continued aggression will be heavy, very heavy.”
“It was a restless night in the south of the country, and there is one person responsible for it — Hamas,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said. “If Hamas does not stand the test of peace the results will be dire first of all for its leadership and for the residents of the Gaza Strip.”
“I would like to tell the residents of the south that we are working in several directions, both operational and in other ways, in order to bring about long-term peace.” Gantz added that, “we will continue our response to the violation of our sovereignty, beyond what we have done, in a time, place and manner that will serve our long-term needs, of the citizens of Israel and the State of Israel, in the south of the country.”
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) tweeted that they “struck Hamas underground infrastructure and military posts in Gaza” on Sunday morning using fighter jets, helicopters, and tanks.
“The IDF conducts ongoing situation assessments and acts decisively against any attempt at terrorist activity against the citizens of the State of Israel and the violation of its sovereignty,” IDF said in a statement.
Inside Gaza, security officials reported airstrikes hitting Khan Younes, Rafah, and Beit Hanoun. No casualty figures were reported.
Israeli military units have been on a higher alert posture along the Gaza Strip due to the anniversary of the assassination of senior Pal estinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader Bahaa Abu al-Ata. Southern Israeli communities were also placed on high alert last week expecting retaliatory rocket launches from Gaza. Al-Ata had been killed on November 12 last year in an airstrike against his home in Gaza City.
Born in Gaza and trained in Syria, al-Ata was a field commander of the PIJ. The organization is backed by Iran.
The IDF says that he had been directly responsible for planning and coordinating attacks against Israeli civilians, including one at the Erez border crossing in 2008 and another near Kibbutz Nahal Oz in which two Israelis were killed. He had also placed snipers and explosives along the border fence.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad is just one of the armed terrorist groups operating in Gaza. The territory itself is ruled by Hamas.