The IDF attacked several of the Hamas terror group’s positions in the northern Gaza Strip on Monday night, after several rockets were launched from the territory at the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon.
The IDF tweeted that it “holds the Hamas terror organization accountable for this hostile act originating in the Gaza Strip.”
Following the retaliatory Israeli strikes, Hamas warned that “the enemy must be afraid and know it will pay a price for breaking the rules of engagement with the Gaza resistance.”
“The coming days will prove the enormity of the enemy’s mistake and miscalculation as to the resistance’s willpower,” the Gaza-ruling terror group threatened.
The rockets from Gaza were fired over Ashkelon around midnight and set off Code Red sirens in the city as well as in several other Israeli communities in the vicinity of Gaza, including Berekhya, Hodaya, Mash’en, Nir Yisrael, Beit Shikma, Bat Hadar, Ge’a, Zikim, Karmia, and Yad Mordechai.
One of the rockets was intercepted by the Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. Explosions were heard in the area, but no injuries or damage were reported.
Monday night’s rocket fire from Gaza followed a similar incident early Monday morning in which a rocket fired from the territory exploded in an open area in Israel’s Eshkol Regional Council.
Last week, Hamas called for a violent uprising in response to President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In a rare move, Israel announced on Wednesday it was closing its crossings with the Gaza Strip following a week of nearly nightly rocket attacks by terrorist groups in the Palestinian enclave.
The army said the Kerem Shalom Crossing, from which goods enter and leave the Strip, as well as the pedestrian Erez Crossing would be shuttered beginning on Thursday, in light of “security events and in accordance with security assessments.”
It was not clear when the crossings would reopen, the army said.
A military spokesperson said that in “humanitarian cases” Gaza residents may be allowed to pass through the Erez Crossing, but that this would be contingent upon approval from Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, Israel’s chief military liaison to the Palestinians, known formally as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).
While the Gaza crossings are typically closed for Jewish and national holidays, it is uncommon for Israel to shut them for punitive reasons.
On Wednesday night, four rockets were fired from Gaza at southern Israel. Two of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, a third struck an open field and the fourth fell short of the border and hit a school in the Gaza Strip, according to Israeli officials.
In the past week, over a dozen rockets have been fired from Gaza. A number of them fell short, five were shot down by the Iron Dome and six struck Israel, two of them causing damage in the southern town of Sderot.
This has been the largest amount of rocket fire from the Strip since the 2014 Gaza war. According to Israeli assessments, these rockets are not being launched by Hamas, but by other terrorist groups in the Strip.
The recent increase in rocket attacks have prompted residents of southern Israel, as well as local and national politicians to call for harsher retaliations.
Before Wednesday night’s rocket fire, the Hadashot television news outlet on Wednesday reported that the Israeli military was planning to take “dramatically” more aggressive action in response to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, in light of the increase in the number of launches.
The rocket that fell short on Wednesday “destroyed” an empty classroom in Beit Hanoun’s Ghazi al-Shawa public school, according to Mordechai.
On his Arabic Facebook page, the army’s chief liaison to Palestinians wrote: “This evening Iron Dome intercepted two rocket shells launched from the Gaza strip. Residents of Gaza, unless they tell you what happened with another missile fired from Gaza, it’s important to know that the missile hit the general school of Ghazi in Beit Hanoun and destroyed a classroom room there.
“The terrorist groups in Gaza unequivocally demonstrate what we say once again: They are destroy the future of their children with their own hands. Just think what would have happened if the shell had been fired during the day when the class was full of your children.”
Earlier the Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted two rockets fired from Gaza, amid increased tensions in the south of the country following repeated attacks, the army said.
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