IDF strikes Hamas targets, military compound in Gaza Strip

The air strikes were in response to rockets fired out of Gaza into Israel Saturday night.

Smoke clouds rise over Gaza after the IAF struck terror targets in the Strip (photo credit: Courtesy)
Smoke clouds rise over Gaza after the IAF struck terror targets in the Strip
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Israel Air Force struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Saturday night in response to the launching of two rockets toward southern communities bordering the blockaded coastal enclave.
IAF fighter jets and combat helicopters struck targets in the central city of Deir el-Balah and the southern city of Khan Yunis, which the military said would impair the terror group’s military capabilities.
Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that while there were no causalities, significant damage was caused to the target sites and partial damage was caused to neighboring homes.
Hamas “bears responsibility for what is happening in and out of the Gaza Strip, and it will face the consequences for terrorist actions against Israeli citizens,” the IDF said, adding that it “will continue to act as necessary against attempts to harm Israeli civilians.”
Following several days of calm in the South and after Hamas reportedly said it would reduce the launching of rockets and explosive aerial devices into Israel, a defense official announced on Thursday that the fishing zone would be extended to 15 nautical miles and 500 work permits would be reinstated for businesspeople to enter Israel, as well as stating that cement would be allowed in.
The weekend served “as a test of this stability,” the official said. But, following the rocket fire, Israel announced it would cancel the slight easing of the territory.
During the day on Saturday, several explosive aerial devices were discovered in the South by tourists who had come down for the Darom Adom festivities. One tourist, who went down to Eshkol Regional Council with her young daughter and husband, told The Jerusalem Post she saw at least two suspicious balloons throughout the day.
On Sunday at least 11 explosive aerial devices were launched toward southern communities. In one instance, a young girl found an explosive device in her yard in Moshav Shuva that is believed to have flown from the Gaza Strip. The police detonated the device before it caused any injuries. In another instance, a section of Highway 6 was closed to traffic after another device was found on the highway.
Shortly before the rocket fire, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett told Channel 12 that there had been a “dramatic decline” in rocket fire since he assumed the position in November.
“From the three months before to the three months after I started as defense minister, the number of rockets dropped by 80%, and the riots on the border have stopped completely,” he said.
“Since becoming the defense minister, I have changed so many things,” Bennett continued, explaining that the IDF is “striking Hamas bases in retaliation for the firing of balloons, which was not the case before. I will explain the approach: reward and punishment. If it remains quiet, they will have it good... They said they were stopping [firing rockets and balloons]. Now we’ll see whether it happens, and if not, they will be punished.”
Last week during a visit to the Gaza Division, Bennett warned that “the lawless conduct of Hamas leadership is bringing us closer to fatal action against them. We will not announce when or where, but no one will be immune.
“The State of Israel does not want a war with Hamas in Gaza, but we have a commitment to the security of southern residents,” he said. “Hamas faces the choice: to choose life and economic prosperity or to choose terror and pay an unbearable price.”