IDF artillery retaliates for Kassams

IDF missiles and repeated sonic booms over Gaza are part of overnight strikes.

al aksa man gun 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
al aksa man gun 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
An IDF aircraft fired at least one missile at an open field in the northern Gaza Strip early Wednesday. The attack came shortly after Palestinians shot a homemade Kassam rocket at the Sha'ar Hanegev industrial zone in the northern Negev. Despite the firing, Israel on Wednesday morning opened the Gaza crossings of Karni and Erez, which were closed due the holiday firings. In addition, several sonic booms caused by Israeli warplanes were heard in Gaza City during the night. The army said the airstrike targeted an empty field in northern Gaza used by Palestinian groups to launch the rockets. There were no reports of damage or casualties from the Israeli airstrike or the rocket attack on the southern Israeli town. IDF cannons had fallen silent earlier on Tuesday after twice bombarding targets in the Gaza Strip to retaliate against the firing of at least two Kassam rockets into Israel over the Sukkot holiday, which were launched to avenge the killing of a top Islamic Jihad commander in the West Bank. Israeli warplanes also struck at Islamic Jihad and Fatah targets throughout Tuesday in an effort to quash any attempts by the Palestinian terrorist organizations to violently link the Gaza Strip with events in the West Bank. The severe Israeli retaliation led the Palestinian Authority to declare it had deployed its forces near the launching sites to stop further rocket attacks, news reports fro Gaza said. There were no reported injuries in the Palestinian rocket attacks. Israel added economic pressure on the Palestinians Monday night by shutting the Erez and Karni crossings out of the Gaza Strip. But they were reopened Wednesday morning. The latest flare-up came following the killing early Tuesday in Tulkarm of what the IDF said was the most wanted Islamic Jihad terrorist and his close accomplice responsible for the deaths of 10 Israelis. Shortly after the killing of Sa'adi, the IDF went on alert for Islamic Jihad retaliation. It came later Monday evening when IDF radar detected the launches of at least five Kassam rockets. The Red Dawn early warning siren in place in Sderot immediately wailed sending Simchat Torah worshippers and others scurrying for shelter. The IDF could only locate the hits of two of the Kassams, both near the fence on the northern perimeter of the Gaza Strip. The rest were believed to have fallen short and landed inside Palestinian territory. Israel reacted swiftly, sending attack helicopters into the skies over the Gaza Strip and dispatching jet fighters, which intentionally broke the sound barrier. Aircraft fired a rocket into a building belonging to the Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in Beit Hanoun. Another rocket was fired into an office used by the Islamic Jihad in Rafah, the army said. Palestinian reports said five people were wounded in the Rafah strike, including two women and a baby. Palestinian interior ministry spokesman Tawfiq Abu Khossa condemned the strike as "Israel's escalating aggression" in the Gaza Strip. But he also criticized the shooting of the rockets into Israel by Palestinian militants and vowed that PA authorities would not tolerate rocket fire. "This act does not serve the interests of the Palestinian people, especially since there was a Palestinian agreement not to launch these actions from the Gaza Strip," he said. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday condemned Saadi's killing and Islamic Jihad's retaliation, which he called "silly." "We don't accept the Israeli aggression and we don't accept the silly responses that lead to the punishment of the (Palestinian) people," he said. In addition to the air strikes, IDF artillery late Monday fired at what the army said were fields used to launch Kassam rockets in the northern Gaza Strip. The cannons fired another salvo before dawn Tuesday. The rounds all hit empty fields. The earth could be felt shaking as far away as Ashkelon and the sonic booms even further north.