A rocket exploded in an open area near the southern Ashkelon coastline Wednesday evening. There were no initial reports or injuries or damage. Security forces were sweeping the area. Red alert sirens were not sounded as the rocket fell in an open area.There has been no official claim of responsibility for the projectile’s launch, but Israel holds Hamas responsible for all fire coming from the Gaza Strip.
The incident comes just days after IDF jets struck five Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip earlier this week in retaliation for a rocket that landed in southern Israel overnight Sunday, the army confirmed on Monday.“The strikes occurred in response to high-trajectory rocket attacks on the Western Negev in the morning,” the statement said. “The firing of rockets constitutes a threat to the security of Israeli citizens and harms the sovereignty of the State of Israel.” According to Palestinian reports, at least eight air strikes hit Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip, including in Beit Lahiya. According to Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the Health Ministry in Gaza, four men were “moderately wounded east of Rafah during the Israeli bombardment.”According to Palestinian news agency Ma’an, two strikes targeted the Shuhada Hamas military site in the central Gaza Strip, west of the Nuseirat refugee camp.Following the strikes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We are not ready to accept any drizzle of rockets. We will respond to every [rocket] fired into our territory. That is what we did today and that is what we will also do in the future.”Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman stated that while Israel has no intention of initiating military action in Gaza, “we have no intention of continuing to absorb sporadic fire [from the Gaza Strip]. Hamas must take responsibility and relax.”Hamas, on their official Twitter account, blamed Israel for the escalation: “We place full responsibility for the continuation of this dangerous escalation in Gaza on the Israeli entity, which is targeting the Palestinian resistance and the people of Gaza. The continued targeting of the resistance’s locations, the purposeful explosion of the situation in Gaza and the imposition of new formulas on the resistance can not be permitted, irregardless of the price.”
IDF strikes Hamas targets after rocket fired from Gaza, February 27 (credit: REUTERS)