Smoke trails are seen as rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel [File].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Terrorists in Gaza fired a rocket at the Sderot area on Thursday evening, ending four months of quiet and triggering air raid sirens in the area. The projectile exploded harmlessly in an open, uninhabited area, the IDF said, adding that security forces were searching for its remnants.
In response, the IDF struck a terror target in northern Gaza to the earlier rocket attack, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said on Thursday shortly before midnight.
It was not immediately clear which organization launched the attack. The assessment within the army is that a small Gazan terror group, not Hamas, fired the rocket.
Following the incident, the IDF announced that Gazan worshippers will not be able to go to Jerusalem for Friday prayers at al-Aksa Mosque this week.
Yesh Atid MK Haim Jelin, formerly head of the Eshkol Regional Council near Gaza, said that for the residents of the South, Israel’s 67th Independence Day “remains a day of no hope.”
“The government of Israel must act with a firm hand against terrorism, and at the same time, act diplomatically to reach an agreement that will place quiet and security on the horizon,” Jelin added.
On December 20, Palestinians fired a rocket at a farming area in the Eshkol region, setting off warning sirens and sending residents fleeing for cover. The Israel Air Force responded within hours to that incident, bombing a Hamas base in southern Gaza.
There were no casualties in the incident, the third time Palestinians had fired a rocket into Israel since the truce between Israel and Hamas went into effect on August 26, ending a 50-day conflict last summer.
Following the rocket fire, Zionist Union MK Omer Bar- Lev complained that Thursday’s projectile was not the first since Operation Protective Edge.
“The operation’s failure to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough that could change the reality for the citizens of the Gaza periphery is a strategic mistake by Netanyahu and a missed opportunity,” Bar-Lev said. “Netanyahu in his last term made residents of the South cannon fodder of his passive foreign policy. I hope that in his next term his policy will change and he will work actively to bring about the demilitarization of Gaza and restore Israel’s deterrence in the South.”
Likud MK Miri Regev said Israel must act determinedly and immediately and not permit the terrorist organizations to raise their heads “with a drizzle of rocket fire.”
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.