IDF responds to rocket fire, targets Gaza terror centers

After grad rocket slams into Ashdod, Bnei Aish, IDF says air raids hit their precise targets; first rocket attack since Schalit deal.

Smoke rises after an IAF airstrike in Gaza 311 (R) (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
Smoke rises after an IAF airstrike in Gaza 311 (R)
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
The Israel Air Force bombed three terrorist targets and a weapons storage depot in the Gaza Strip early on Thursday morning following an unprovoked long-range rocket attack on Israel.
Fighter jets struck targets accurately and returned to base, the IDF Spokesman’s Office said. There were no reports of casualties in Gaza.
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The activity came in retaliation to a Grad rocket that was fired at the greater Ashdod region on Wednesday night.
The rocket struck in an open area. No injuries were reported, but several people went into from shock.
The rocket triggered air raid sirens in areas that had never before experienced them, including Rehovot, Ness Ziona and parts of Rishon Lezion.
A woman who was visiting Rehovot told The Jerusalem Post, “I was preparing to go to sleep when I heard the rising and falling siren. I heard neighbors coming out of their homes in the building, and asked them what to do. I was told to go to leave the apartment and go down one floor, as I was on the top floor. People were calm.”
The rocket attack was the first since the deal that freed IDF soldier Gilad Schalit last week.
Three weeks ago, two Kassam rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip.
One exploded in an open field in the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council, while the other exploded inside the Strip. No injuries or damage was reported in that attack.
Earlier on Wednesday night, an IDF patrol was struck by a roadside bomb near the West Bank settlement of Efrat.
No injuries were reported but an army vehicle was damaged, the IDF Spokesman’s Office said. IDF forces were searching for the attackers.
Former national security adviser Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland told the Post on Thursday that the restrained action taken by Israel following the rocket attack likely signaled a desire to end the escalation at this stage.
“There are times when we know things that aren’t published in the media. Sometimes, a response is given to punish or harm the other side, and create new parameters.
In such cases, the reply has to be strong,” he said.
But “in other times, you react to send the message that you’ve reacted, and you send the signal that the incident is over. The message says, ‘I had to act, but this should not be interpreted as the start of something.’” Defense sources declined to say whether they believed a terrorist cell or group acting on its own fired the rocket, or whether the order came directly from the Hamas leadership.
They did indicate, however, that Israel knew who fired the rocket.