Israel destroys Gaza cement factory in retaliation for rocket attack


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel destroyed what the military said was a cement factory in Gaza following the firing of a rocket from Gaza that damaged agricultural fields in a southern Israeli kibbutz.

The Israeli Air Force destroyed the factory on Saturday in response to the rocket fired on Friday.

Speaking at a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony at the Western Wall Saturday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the cement factory “served to rebuild the tunnels that we hit in Operation Protective Edge.” Netanyahu said Israel would not ignore the firing of even one rocket from Gaza on Israel.

“Hamas bears the responsibility for any escalation,” Netanyahu said. “We will safeguard Israel’s security.”

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Saturday’s strike “is a clear message to Hamas that we won’t put up with a ‘trickle’ of rockets on our citizens. We hold Hamas responsible for what happens in the strip, and we know how to respond to the attacks if they don’t know how to stop them.”

Hamas reportedly informed Israel late on Saturday night through an Egyptian mediator that it did not support Friday’s rocket attack and that it would crack down on the Palestinian groups behind it.

Former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh reportedly said that the airstrikes constituted “a grave violation of the ceasefire agreement.”

The rocket that exploded Friday morning was the third fired at Israel since the end of Israel’s 50-day operation against Hamas in Gaza, which ended on Aug. 26.

In recent weeks, Palestinians have fired several test rockets that were not aimed at Israel. Last month, the Israel Defense Forces reported that four such rockets were launched in the space of 24 hours into the sea west of Gaza.

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