IDF strikes Hamas targets in Gaza Strip following rocket fire

One rocket hit a building in an Israeli community bordering the Gaza Strip.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
December 29, 2017 12:14
2 minute read.

Family members of fallen St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul take cover during a concert marking his 24th birthday (MK Haim Yelin)

Family members of fallen St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul take cover during a concert marking his 24th birthday (MK Haim Yelin)

 
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Three rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel on Friday morning, the IDF said, adding that two of the rockets were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system.

Israel Police confirmed that a third rocket struck an Israeli community in the Negev region bordering the Gaza Strip, causing damage to a building but no injuries. Police bomb disposal experts are working at the scene.

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In response, IDF tanks and aircraft targeted two Gaza Strip outposts belonging to Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip.

Family members of St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul, who was killed in 2014 and whose remains Hamas holds in Gaza, held a concert in celebration of what would have been the fallen IDF soldier's 24th birthday Friday. They were forced to take cover during the celebration after rocket sirens went off.

Rocket fire from Gaza had been on the rise following US President Donald Trump's decision to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, although the last two weeks had seen quiet return to the area.

During the increased tensions, Israel repeatedly responded to days of rocket fire, striking 40 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip over a two-week period.

On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned leaders in the Gaza Strip not to provoke Israel.

"It is up to Gaza to decide whether there will be a state of calm in Gaza. We will not allow or tolerate an escalation from Hamas or from any other terrorist element. We will use all means to defend Israel’s sovereignty and security,” Netanyahu said.

The rockets fired on Friday interrupted a ceremony in Kfar Aza that marked the 24th birthday of Oron Shaul, an IDF soldier who was killed during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014 and whose body is still being held by Hamas.

The ceremony was attended by Israeli politicians including Zionist Union party chairman Avi Gabbay and Communications Minister Ayoub Kara.

"The rocket fire in the middle of the ceremony testifies to the lack of Israeli deterrence," said Gabbay. "They know there's a ceremony and so they shoot. It's insufferable. I hope our government will respond as necessary."

Kara wrote on Twitter: "Thank God that everyone is fine and thank you to all those for asking how we are doing. Shabbat Shalom to the people of Israel and to the security forces, whoever and wherever they are."

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