A pair of US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in Syria.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Israel Air Force attacked four Hamasowned infrastructure sites early on Wednesday in retaliation to a Gazan rocket attack on Ashdod a few hours earlier. There were no injuries reported in the rocket strike or in the IAF air strike, after an Iron Dome anti-rocket battery intercepted one rocket over the southern city of Ashdod.
The rocket triggered warning sirens across the city and in the Hof Ashkelon region, before an Tamir interceptor missile destroyed it in mid-air.
“The IDF will not tolerate terrorists opening fire onto Israeli territory and will continue to act severely against any attempt to disturb the peace of communities in the South,” an IDF statement said. “Hamas is the address and the responsibility is on it,” it added.
The ISIS-affiliated Omar Hadid Salafist jihadi group in Gaza said it was behind the rocket launch on Tuesday, Channel 10 reported.
Iron Dome intercept rocket over Ashdod
The Omar Hadid Brigades, named after a key figure who helped Abu Musab al-Zarqawi set up and run al-Qaida in Iraq nearly a decade ago, is challenging Hamas’s rule in the Gaza Strip. It is responsible for a growing number of rocket attacks on the South, and hopes to spark a new conflict with Israel that will weaken Gaza’s Hamas rulers and enable it to fill the resulting power vacuum.
Earlier on Tuesday, during a tour of Gaza-border communities, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Hamas remains deterred in Gaza, and is dealing with “internal challenges, including against various ISIS elements, which on occasion fire from the Strip to oppose it. Hamas is dealing with internal challenges, and we are trying on this matter to not only use sticks, but also carrots, to try and insert reconstruction material or other goods to get the economy started, because we have no interest in Gazan residents living in distress.
“As long as they don’t threaten us or harm our communities, we of course permit and encourage this. I hope that the current security situation will continue in the coming years,” the defense minister told local government heads during a visit to Kibbutz Sa’ad.
Earlier this month, Palestinians in Gaza fired a rocket that exploded in an open field on the Israeli side of the border. No injuries or damage were reported in that attack and the IDF said no alert was sounded in the incident because the rocket was headed toward an open field.