Israel Air Force aircraft attacked a terrorist cell that was setting up Kassam launchers near the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday evening, killing three men.
In response to the strike, Palestinians fired several Kassam rockets, which landed in open fields, causing no injuries. In the latest attack, a mortar shell hit the Eshkol region late on Saturday night. IDF soldiers responded to the attack by firing at the area from which the mortar was launched.
Friday's air strike was the first time Israel had launched a preemptive strike against a terror cell preparing to fire rockets into Israel since Operation Cast Lead ended in mid-January.
The cell was spotted by the IDF as it was driving into a field near Jabalya. The aircraft opened fire after the terrorists exited the vehicle and began setting up the rocket launchers.
IDF sources said the three men killed had been involved in rocket attacks against Israel in the past. They were identified as Mahmoud Bana, Kamal Dahdouh and Muhammad Marshoud. All three, the IDF said, were known Islamic Jihad operatives from Gaza City.
Since Operation Cast Lead, the IDF has responded to sporadic rocket fire by destroying smuggling tunnels along the Philadelphi Corridor, on the Gaza-Egypt border, but this was the first strike against a terror cell as it was preparing to fire rockets into Israel.