Israel targets Hamas sites after rocket fire

Jerusalem, Nov 16: Israeli authorities on Saturday said it targeted sites controlled by the Hamas in several predawn airstrikes in Gaza after two rockets were fired at Israel from the Palestinian enclave, two days after a fragile truce started.

So far, Hamas, an Islamist Palestinian movement that runs the Gaza Strip, has not been involved in the five-day cross-border fire, reports Xinhua news agency.

The airstrikes came after Gaza militants fired overnight two rockets towards Beersheba, a city in southern Israel. Both rockets were intercepted by Israeli anti-rocket Iron Dome system before hitting the ground.

Shortly later, Israeli fighter jets and aircraft struck “a number of Hamas terror targets in the Gaza Strip”, a military spokesperson said in a statement.

The sites which were targeted are, a Hamas military camp, a military compound used by its naval force, and underground infrastructure, the army said.

No group immediately assumed responsibility for the rockets, but previous ones were launched by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), in retaliation for the killing of Baha Abu al-Ata, one of its top commander in an Israeli airstrike on Tuesday.

The airstrikes were the first time Israel has targeted Hamas sites since the escalation began.

The army said that Hamas was targeted because Israel holds it responsible “for events transpiring in the Gaza Strip and emanating from it”, adding that the group “will bear the consequences for actions against Israeli civilians”.

“The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) views the rocket fire with great severity and is prepared for various scenarios,” the statement read.

On Thursday, the Israeli military and the PIJ announced that an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire deal has been reached, but the sporadic fire continued from both sides.

Following the killing of Abu al-Ata, PIJ responded almost immediately with barrages of rockets, partially paralyzing southern and central Israel.

Overall, Gaza militants fired at least 450 rockets into Israel, causing no fatalities.

In Gaza, Israeli strikes claimed the lives of 34 people.

(IANS)

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