Israel retaliates for rocket attacks
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Israel retaliates for rocket attacks

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel struck the central Gaza Strip after four mortars were fired at southern Israel, reportedly killing three Palestinians.

The army was targeting a Palestinian bomb squad preparing to fire missiles at Israeli territory, an Israel Defense Forces source told Israeli Ynet Sunday night following the attack.

Earlier Sunday, two Palestinians reportedly were killed by gunfire in the northern Gaza Strip. Israel’s military denied being responsible for the gunfire, saying it did not strike in the area. Two bodies of Palestinians were found in an Israel-Gaza border area, Reuters reported.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the beginning of Sunday’s weekly Cabinet meeting that it would respond to attacks on southern Israel. Netanyahu said that 20 rockets and mortar rounds were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip last week.

"I regard this very seriously," he said.

Netanyahu said the IDF responded immediately by attacking missile-producing factories in the Gaza Strip and tunnels through which Iran smuggles missiles and rockets into the Strip.

"The government’s policy is clear: Any firing at our territory will be responded to strongly and immediately," the prime minister said.

On Saturday, three Kassam rockets hit southern Israel, causing no casualties or damage. The rockets followed a Katyusha rocket that hit near Ashkelon on Jan. 7.

Israel’s military responded to the Jan. 7 attack later that night, striking four targets in Gaza, including several smuggling tunnels in southern Gaza, as well as a weapons-manufacturing facility, according to reports. Three Palestinians were reported killed in the attack.