The Israeli military struck targets belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip after four rockets were launched from the blockaded coastal enclave toward southern Israel.
The targets included an underground infrastructure to manufacture rockets in the Nusierat refugee camp at its martyrs' site.
“The site targeted was one of the largest and most important sites in the Strip for the production of base materials for rockets by terror groups,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said.
“The site was one of the largest and most important sites for production of base materials for rockets”IDF Spokesperson’s Unit
The strike came in response to two rockets that were fired toward the southern city of Ashkelon at around 1:00 a.m. One was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system while the other struck an open area. There were no reports of damage or injuries.
As Israel carried out the strikes, two more rockets were fired toward communities in the south of the country, with incoming rocket sirens activated in Moshav Ahuzam near Kiryat Gat. Both rockets fell in open areas.
Israel then carried out additional strikes in the Hamas-run enclave, hitting additional rocket production targets.
The strikes were carried out “in response to rocket launches and machine gun fire from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory,” the IDF said.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz held a situational assessment on Saturday evening along with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi, Director-General of the Defense Ministry Maj.-Gen.(res.) Amir Eshel, the Head of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Haliva, Head of the Operations Directorate Maj.-Gen. Oded Basiok and the Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories (COGAT) Maj.-Gen. Ghassan Alian.
Following the evaluation, Gantz suspended the decision to raise the quota of entry permits for Gazan workers after it was raised to 1500 to reach a total of 15,000 permits ahead of the visit of US President Joe Biden to the region.
“The decision was made in the wake of a rocket fire directed at the State of Israel. The Hamas terror organization carries responsibility for all activities directed against Israel in and from the Gaza Strip, and it will bear the consequences,” COGAT said.
In March the Defense Ministry approved a plan to increase the number of work permits granted for Gazans from 12,000 to 20,000.
Previous rocket attacks
The last time that rockets were fired from the Hamas-ruled enclave was on June 18 when some were fired toward Ashkelon. Two months earlier a rocket was fired toward the southern Israeli communities of Kissufim and Ein Hashlosha, which are located just across from the city of Khan Yunis. Before that, the last rocket fired was on January 1 when two landed in the sea off the coast of Tel Aviv.
Following the rocket fire in June, Gantz suspended the number of work permits for nearly a week.
Defense officials say that allowing more Gazans to work in Israel would bring in income into the impoverished enclave which in turn would promote quiet and stability.
There will be a security cabinet meeting on Sunday, the first since Yair Lapid became Prime Minister.
The rocket fire comes shortly after Biden visited Israel and toured the IDF’s various air defense systems including the Iron Dome and the still-in-development Iron Beam laser system.
During his two-day visit, the president also met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.
Biden left for Saudi Arabia on Friday afternoon.
Following the airstrikes, Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said that “the occupation, with all the tools of terrorism and American support, will not be able to break the will of our steadfast people and their valiant resistance.”
The group’s political leader Ismail Haniyeh said that "the attempts of the American government to newly fabricate the region through involving the State of Israel, providing it with security by creating alliances between it and the Arab governments, will fail - because these countries' stances resist these alliances.”
Israel holds Hamas responsible for all rocket fire that is launched from the Gaza Strip.