Rocket fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel. [File].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The air force struck two Hamas targets at a military complex in the southern Gaza Strip overnight Friday, in response to earlier rocket fire toward Israeli communities.
Rocket warning sirens were activated on Friday night in Israeli communities near Gaza, and shortly afterward the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit confirmed that a rocket had been fired from the Strip.
A representative of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council said the rocket struck an open area in the region, without causing injury or damage.
During the IAF counter-strike, another alert siren was activated, but the army did not identify a Gazan projectile as being fired.
Also on Thursday evening, a rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, without causing injury or damage. The IDF struck a Hamas observation post in the northern Gaza Strip in response to that rocket launch.
Earlier last week another Code Red rocket alert siren was activated in the Sdot Negev and Sha’ar Hanegev regions, but troops did not find any impact sites inside Israel despite residents hearing explosions.
The rocket fire comes after weeks of relative calm on the Gaza border, which were preceded by a month of heightened tensions, when dozens of rockets were fired into Israel from the Hamas-run enclave.
While most of the attacks are believed to have come from groups such as Islamic Jihad and smaller Salafi groups, the IDF said following the retaliatory strikes on Thursday and Friday evenings that it “sees the Hamas terrorist organization as the sole one responsible for what happens in the Gaza Strip and from it.”
Terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired 35 projectiles toward Israel in 2017, up from the two previous years.
According to statistics the IDF published in mid-January, 2017 saw the most violence between Israel and terrorist groups in the Strip since the end of Operation Protective Edge in August 2014.
The majority of projectiles in 2017 were fired toward southern Israel since late October, after the IDF discovered and destroyed a cross-border Islamic Jihad attack tunnel and after US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The majority of the projectiles struck open areas, causing no injuries or damage, but around a dozen hit residential areas or were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
The military in 2017 retaliated to rocket fire by striking 59 terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, including observation posts, military compounds, weapons depots and weapons production sites.
While 2017 saw as many enemy rocket attacks as the previous two years combined – there were 15 in 2016 and 21 in 2015 – it was still considered a relatively quiet year for communities near Gaza, as almost every year since Hamas seized control of the Strip in 2007 the number of rockets fired toward Israel was in the triple digits.
In 2007, Israel was hit by 2,433 Gazan projectiles, and in 2008 during Operation Cast Lead, terrorists in the Strip fired 3,557 projectiles at Israeli communities. In 2012 during Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel was struck by 2,771 rockets, and in 2014, which included Operation Protective Edge, Israel was bombarded by 4,897 projectiles from the Strip