The IAF struck multiple Hamas targets across the Gaza Strip overnight on Friday after a house in Sderot
sustained a direct hit by a rocket launched during a barrage by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
The Hamas targets struck by IAF jets included a military compound belonging to the group’s naval forces, a military compound belonging to the organization’s air defense system, a missile simulator, training facilities, an arms manufacturing site, a military compound used as a weapons storehouse and “underground infrastructure.”
“The attack was carried out in response to the launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory earlier in the evening,” a statement released by the IDF said. “The IDF sees with great severity rocket attacks against Israeli territory, is in a high state of readiness, and will continue to act as necessary against attempts to harm Israeli civilians.”
Rocket barrage over Sderot, November 1, 2019 (Credit: צילום: אלברט אבוחצירא)
While Israel believes PIJ was behind the rocket barrages, the IDF holds Hamas responsible “for all acts in and emanating from the Gaza Strip
The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said that Ahmed al-Sheri, 27, was killed in the strikes in Khan Yunis, and two others were wounded.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum was quoted by Safa Palestinian News Agency as saying Israel will bear the consequences of its actions, adding that, “all these crimes will not break the steadfastness of our people, and will not deter us from moving forward in the path of jihad and resistance in defense of our people and to face aggression.”
PIJ also released a statement following the retaliatory strikes, saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “is trying to cover up his corruption and failure by means of an escalation against the Gaza Strip and harming infrastructure, buildings and civilians, as happened in Khan Yunis, and Israel bears responsibility for this escalation,” Safa reported.
In the aftermath of the rocket attacks, Netanyahu held security consultations at military headquarters in Tel Aviv. In addition, the security cabinet is set to meet on Sunday afternoon.
While Hamas has been the ruling party in the Gaza Strip since seizing power in a 2007 coup, it has been losing control over the street in recent years. The vacuum has been filled by PIJ’s al-Quds Brigades, and its leader, Baha Abu al-Ata, has been named by the IDF as having ordered the firing of rockets.
PIJ, the largest armed faction in the Gaza Strip after Hamas, has been assessed by military intelligence as a factor increasing the risk of an escalation in the blockaded coastal enclave, since it is not under the direct control of Hamas and acts independently for its own interests.
The retaliatory strikes came after 10 rockets were fired at Sderot and other communities bordering the Gaza Strip on Friday night.
According to the IDF, seven projectiles were fired during the first barrage. All were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Following the first barrage, Palestinian media reported that an IDF tank shelled a Hamas observation post in the Strip.
Shortly afterward, three more projectiles were fired during a second barrage. Only one was intercepted.
The Sderot municipality spokesperson confirmed in a statement that a home sustained damage, but there were no injuries as all of its residents were in a bomb shelter.
“When I arrived at the street, there was chaos,” said Magen David Adom (MDA) paramedic Alex Kosinov. “Nearby there were numerous vehicles with shattered windscreens. The residents of the building, a 40-year-old couple with their children, were in a nearby building. They told us that they immediately entered the protected area and left a few minutes later. They were not injured and did not require medical treatment.”
MDA reported that it treated a 65-year-old woman in mild condition who fell while trying to reach a bomb shelter. The woman was evacuated to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashdod for medical treatment. Several others were treated for shock.
Earlier in the day, some 65,000 Palestinians participated in the weekly “March of Return” riots along the Gaza border fence. The Palestinian Wafa News Agency reported 88 injuries but no deaths.
On Thursday evening, a rocket was launched, with incoming sirens activated in the communities of Be’eri and Alumim. The rocket landed in an open field, causing no damage or injuries.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.