The IDF struck targets in the Gaza Strip on Saturday night in retaliation for the two rockets that had been fired earlier from Gaza towards central Israel earlier that morning, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit announced on Saturday night.
A Hamas site located west of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip was targeted by the Israel Air Force (IAF), according to Palestinian reports. IDF artillery targeted sites in the northern Gaza Strip during the strikes as well.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said it had struck a number of targets in Hamas's rocket production complex. Additionally, IDF tanks targeted posts belonging to Hamas along the Gaza border.
During the strikes, Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip reportedly fired a number of test rockets towards the sea. Operatives belonging to terror groups also fired anti-aircraft guns and SA-7 surface-to-air missiles towards Israel Air Force helicopters.
Groups in the Strip have fired SAMs towards Israeli platforms during past operations over the Gaza Strip, none have caused any damage.
The Soviet-designed SA-7 is a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile (SAMs) that was designed to target aircraft flying at low altitudes. First used in combat by Egyptian troops during the War of Attrition with Israel in 1969, the system likely entered the Gaza Strip via smuggling routes from the Sinai Peninsula following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya in 2011.
Two rockets launched from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip fell in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of central Israel, one off the coast of Tel Aviv and the other off the coast of Palmachim south of Rishon Letzion early on Saturday morning.
“Earlier this morning, two rocket launches were identified from the Gaza Strip toward the Mediterranean. The rockets fell off the coast of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. According to protocol, no sirens were sounded and no interception took place,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.
The rockets were heard in the cities of Tel Aviv, Holon, Bat Yam, and Rishon Lezion.
While Hamas claimed that the rocket fire on Saturday morning was triggered by bad weather, the military believes that the rocket fire was carried out by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Nevertheless, "the terrorist organization Hamas is responsible for what is happening in the Gaza Strip and bears the consequences of terrorist acts from the Gaza Strip," the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said.
The rocket fire came just days after a civilian working on the Gaza border fence was shot and lightly wounded near the border with the northern Gaza Strip.
Shortly after the shooting on Wednesday, the IDF responded with artillery fire towards a number of Hamas posts in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian reports claimed that at least three Gazan farmers were wounded in the retaliatory strikes.
The rocket launches come as the Israeli military said that this had been the longest period of operational quiet in relation to the four most recent operations in the coastal enclave.
The spike in tensions around the Gaza Strip comes amid a wave of terror attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as growing tensions in Israeli prisons.
Additionally, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad has demanded the release of Hisham Abu Hawash, a Palestinian in administrative detention who has been on hunger strike for over 130 days. Hawash’s detention has reportedly been frozen in recent days, although he is continuing his hunger strike and is hospitalized.