Gazans fired some 40 mortar shells into the Eshkol region of southern Israel Monday morning, less than 24 hours after an IAF airstrike hit the southern Gaza city of Rafah, injuring 10 people.
There were no immediate reports of injuries from the mortar fire Monday morning, although shrapnel lightly damaged one home. Authorities asked residents in the Eshkol region to remain in protected spaces.
On Sunday, the IAF targeted two men it said were involved in previous attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians, including a June 18 attack along the Sinai border that killed one civilian. The two were allegedly planning further attacks in the Sinai, an IDF statement said.
Along with the two terrorists, the IAF strike injured eight civilians, including three children.
The IDF's Spokesperson's Unit identified the terrorists as Talat Khalil Muhammad Jerbi and Abdullah Mohammed Hassan Makawi. One of the terrorists is reported to be critically injured, along with one bystander in the same critical condition.
Residents of the town of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip also said an Israeli tank fired at the area from which the rockets were thought to have been launched, causing minor injuries to four children and damage to a mosque minaret and a water tower.
In a statement released shortly after the attack, the IDF stated: "The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli civilians, and will operate against anyone who uses terror against the State of Israel. The Hamas terror organization is solely responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip."
The statement said that Hamas was responsible for the recent events, and that shots were fired at a mosque in Gaza, from which Hamas chose to shoot at Israel, "as part of the organization's use of religion on terrorism."
Hamas' military wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades and the Ansar al-Quds group have claimed responsibility for Monday morning's attack on Eshkol Regional Council. They claimed the attack was in response to an air strike that wounded two militants and eight bystanders on Sunday.
"In response to the injury of civilians in the most recent strike on Rafah, the Qassam Brigades and the al-Quds Brigades fired a number of rockets at enemy military positions," Hamas's Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades armed wing said in a statement.
The armed wing of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist faction that controls the Gaza Strip, said it was involved in the attack together with members of the Islamic Jihad militant group.
During 2012 more than 470 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel, over 10 in October alone – not count over 20 rockets fired since Monday morning.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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