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Israeli troops moving to Gaza border

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel began moving troops to the border with Gaza amid the continuing barrage of rocket fire on southern Israel from the coastal strip.

Some 30 rockets reportedly were fired from Gaza on southern Israel from Wednesday night to Thursday afternoon, with two landing on homes in Sderot.

“Our policy regarding Gaza is one of deescalation  and preparedness,” Israel Defense Forces spokesman Lt.-Col. Peter Lerner said, but adding that Israel’s military is operating to keep Israeli citizens in southern Israel safe. 

In response to the rocket fire, the IDF said airstrikes hit 15 Hamas targets in Gaza, including concealed rocket launchers, weapon storage facilities and terror activity sites.

While Hamas in Gaza said it was not interested in an escalation on the border with Israel, an unnamed Gaza-based Hamas leader told  The New York Times on Thursday that the group was having trouble convincing other groups to stop firing rockets.

A rocket slammed into a home in Sderot early Thursday morning, causing damage. A woman and her four children were in their bomb shelter when the rocket came through the wall but failed to explode.

The rockets fired overnight also caused power outages throughout the city. Another rocket fired Thursday morning landed in a home in which a children’s summer camp was taking place.

The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted two rockets over the southern Israeli cities of Netivot and Ashkelon. A greenhouse and several cars also were damaged by rockets.

The rocket attacks come amid the backdrop of the kidnap and murder of a Palestinian teen on Wednesday in what police suspect may be a reprisal attack by extremist Jewish settlers following the burial hours earlier of three Israeli teens who were kidnapped and murdered allegedly by members of Hamas.

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