GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israel said its aircraft hit military sites for Gaza’s Hamas rulers early Saturday after two rockets were fired from the Palestinian enclave.
This was Israel’s first strike against Hamas since the start of this week’s cross-border fighting with another Gaza militant group, the Iran-backed Islamic jihad. The shooting ended in a shaky cease-fire announced Thursday.
The worst bout of fighting in months began Tuesday after Israel’s targeted killing of a senior Islamic Jihad commander in an airstrike.
Israel had so far refrained from attacking Hamas, which has kept to the sidelines, adhering to understandings reached through Egyptian mediators after previous rounds of fighting with Israel.
But Israel’s military on Saturday reiterated its long-held position that Hamas was “responsible for events transpiring in the Gaza Strip and emanating from it,” following several firings of rockets by Palestinian militants since the Egyptian-brokered deal took effect.
Israel said Saturday that its air defenses intercepted two rockets coming from Gaza. In response, Israel struck a Hamas military camp and a naval base. There were no reports of injuries and no immediate comment from Hamas.
The new rocket fire could potentially be attributed to other, smaller militant groups or some factions within Islamic Jihad who are not satisfied by the terms of the cease-fire.
During this week’s fighting, Israeli airstrikes killed 34 Palestinians, including eight children, three women and 19 militants. There were no Israeli deaths, but the fighting brought life in both Gaza and southern Israel to a standstill. Dozens of Israelis were treated for injuries as they ran for bomb shelters or stress symptoms.
An Israeli airstrike overnight Thursday struck a home in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah, killing eight people, including two women and five children under the age of 13. The airstrike apparently targeted the home of an Islamic Jihad commander who was not there at the time. Neighbors said the airstrike killed his brother, who was not involved in militant activity.