Twelve mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip at nearby Israeli troops, and in response Israeli tanks and aircraft targeted two Hamas and two Palestinian Islamic Jihad positions in northern Gaza on Thursday afternoon, the army said.
There were no Israeli injuries reported and minimal damage caused to military equipment at the army post that was targeted by the mortar barrage, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
The exchange came exactly one month after Israeli forces destroyed a cross-borner attack tunnel belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, in which at least 14 terrorists were killed, including two of the terrorist organization’s top commanders.
IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the mortar barrage appeared to be retaliation for the demolition of the tunnel, which stretched from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, near Kibbutz Kissufim.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad had vowed it would avenge its operatives killed in the Israeli demolition.
Thursday’s attack came as rocket sirens sounded in the Israeli town of Sderot and other communities surrounding the Gaza Strip, though no missiles actually struck the Sha’ar HaNegev region.
“During the past hour, and parallel to the false alarm in Sha’ar HaNegev, a number of mortar rounds were fired at a military post adjacent to the northern Gaza Strip,” the IDF said in a statement.
Twelve mortar shells were fired at the army post, northeast of the coastal enclave, Conricus told reporters.
As they were fired at a very short range, the Iron Dome air defense battery was not activated, the spokesperson said.
In response to the mortar fire, Israeli tanks and aircraft fired on Hamas and Islamic Jihad positions.
The army spokesperson said the attack was carried out by the Islamic Jihad terror group. “We know who conducted the attack, we even know them by name,” Conricus said.
The Israeli Air Force on Monday afternoon conducted fresh strikes on two Palestinian Islamic Jihad positions in the central Gaza Strip, in response to a mortar attack by the terror group against an IDF post earlier in the day, the army said.
According to the Gaza Health Ministry, three Gazans were lightly wounded in the Israeli bombing.
The additional airstrikes came even as the Israel Defense Forces said it was not looking to escalate the security situation in the Gaza and would only conduct further attacks in response to aggression by the terror group.
At approximately 2 p.m., operatives from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched 12 mortar shells at an Israeli military post northeast of the Gaza Strip. The attack appeared to be retaliation for the army demolishing the group’s attack tunnel, which stretched from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, exactly a month ago, according to IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.
The army said no soldiers were injured in the barrage, but some light damage was caused to equipment.
A short while later, the army retaliated with tank fire and airstrikes that targeted two Palestinian Islamic Jihad and two Hamas positions in the northern Strip.
Before the second round of strikes, Conricus said “it was too early to say” if the army would carry out additional attacks in Gaza, but that it would depend on “actions taken by the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
The spokesperson added, “we are not looking to escalate the situation or initiate hostilities.”
There were no reports of further violence from Gaza after the initial Israeli retaliatory strikes.
It was not clear if the mortar barrage comprised the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s entire revenge strategy or if more attacks were to come from the group. The army said it was prepared to counter additional attempts by the group to commit terror acts against Israeli troops and citizens.