Israeli aircraft carried out a series of strikes against targets in the Gaza Strip early Tuesday as Palestinian terrorists in Gaza appeared to temporarily pause the rocket fire toward Israel.
Rockets were fired toward Israel just before midnight Monday, with no further attacks until dawn Tuesday, when alarms sounded in communities near Gaza and in the town of Netivot.
There were no immediate reports of injuries.
The six-hour break in rocket strikes was the longest since the start of hostilities nine days ago, possibly indicating that moves toward a ceasefire were bearing fruit.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the barrage on Netivot, saying it was in response to “Zionist aggression,” an apparent reference to the overnight strikes.
Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said the military did not know the reason behind the temporary halt in rocket fire, but was continuing with its campaign against Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups.
Palestinian sources reported that the IDF carried out several waves of strikes against targets across the Strip, including one that hit dozens of targets. Video and pictures showed a series of massive explosions and fireballs lighting up the night sky.
According to Zilberman, the large overnight airstrike was the fourth in a series of bombardments on Hamas’s underground tunnel network, which the military refers to as “the metro.”
The attack destroyed some 15 kilometers (9 miles) of Hamas underground tunnels in Gaza City and Khan Younis, according to Zilberman. Upwards of 100 kilometers (62 miles) of tunnels had already been bombed in the previous three raids.
The airstrike was conducted with some 60 planes, dropping over 100 bombs on some 65 targets over the course of roughly 30 minutes beginning at 3:45 a.m. Tuesday, according to the spokesman.
Zilberman said the purpose of this strike, along with the previous three, was to convince Hamas and its operatives that its underground infrastructure was no longer safe and cannot be trusted.
The spokesman said the IDF also targeted a number of underground multi-barreled rocket launchers, destroying at least 10 of them, including six that were aimed at the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. In total, 65 of these launchpads capable of firing multiple rockets at a time have been bombed by the IDF since the outbreak of fighting last Monday, but the military believes that Hamas and other terror groups have many more still capable of firing projectiles toward Israel, including at long ranges.