Tensions continue on Gaza border as mortar explodes in Eshkol

Liberman: We don't seek adventures but won't tolerate rocket fire. Salafi jihadist Twitter account: Attacks on Israel will increase if Hamas does not release our members

A rocket is launched from the northern Gaza Strip towards Israel (photo credit: REUTERS)
A rocket is launched from the northern Gaza Strip towards Israel
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A projectile fired from the Gaza Strip fell in an open area in the Eshkol region on Thursday, triggering off warning sirens in the area and sending residents fleeing for cover. The IDF said the projectile, a mortar shell, fell in an open area and failed to cause damage or injuries.
Palestinian media sources said the IDF returned fire into Gaza, possibly using tank shells, though this was not confirmed by press time.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Thursday evening, "We do not seek adventures and no one is pushing for an escalation with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, but we are determined to protect the security of the citizens of the State of Israel, and there will be no compromise on this point. Every incident of fire from the Gaza Strip at the sovereign territory of the State of Israel will be met with a powerful response. Hamas controls Gaza with a strong hand, and when it wants to achieve or prevent something, it knows how to do so. So they should try harder [to stop] the small groups among them [that reject the truce with Israel]."
Liberman said that Israel "has no intention of initiating any military maneuver. At the same time, we will not tolerate any fire, any provocation."
Gadi Yarkoni, head of the Eshkol Regional Council, told reporters after the attack that he was "convinced that this situation cannot continue," adding that he was sure security forces and the government "think the same." He called on the state to "act and to stop this thing," adding, "We will continue to live near the Gaza border, and the State of Israel will ensure that this drizzle - I hate using that word - this sporadic fire will stop."
Tensions between Israel and Gaza look set to rise, after a Salafi jihadist leader threatened to escalate his organization's attacks on the country within 48 hours, if his demands on Hamas were not met.
A Twitter account under the name Abu Bakr Al-Makdasi posted on Thursday that he would order an increase in attacks on the Jewish state within the stated time, if Hamas did not release members of his organization from jail, after they were arrested a few days ago.
An online statement on Wednesday confirmed that the first of the two attacks on Israel was a response to the arrests by Hamas of five Salafi operatives, as well as part of a "jihad against Jews." The incident comes a day after a small Salafi group in Gaza fired a rocket at Sderot, setting off air raid sirens and narrowly missing homes. The rocket exploded in a road in the southern town, failing to cause physical injuries but sending one local resident into shock.
Following the attack, an Islamic State-linked Salafi jihadist group in Gaza claimed responsibility. An online statement said the attack was part of the “jihad against Jews” and a response to the arrest by Hamas of five Salafi operatives in recent days.
Israel strikes Gaza after rocket fire
The Israel Air Force struck a number of Hamas terrorist targets in response on Wednesday, launching air strikes in northern and southern Gaza. An additional Hamas target was hit by IDF tank fire in northern Gaza earlier on Wednesday.
The IDF said the rocket attack on Sderot threatened the security of Israeli civilians and harmed the State of Israel’s sovereignty, adding, “Hamas is sovereign in the Gaza Strip, and it bears responsibility for every terrorist incident carried out from it.”