JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Air Force bombed 15 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip during two waves of attacks in response to rockets and mortar shells being launched at southern Israel.
Code Red rocket alert sirens sounded throughout southern Israel on Saturday evening and throughout the night, sending residents running for safe rooms and bomb shelters.
The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted three of four rockets fired on Israel during the attacks. One rocket reportedly fell short.
The Hamas targets struck by Israel late on Saturday night included three Hamas military compounds and weapons production and storage sites, the IDF said in a statement. Early Sunday, the military struck five Hamas naval targets in northern Gaza.
The IDF said the attacks were carried out in response to the rocket attacks, as well as weekend attempts to breach the border fence, to plant explosives at the border fence and to throw firebombs at Israeli troops, and the burning of hundreds of acres of fields and part of a nature preserve with kites outfitted with firebombs.
“The weekend events are a continuation of repeated attempts by the Hamas terrorist organization to turn the area of the fence, above and below the ground, into a combat zone, carry out terrorist attacks, damage security infrastructures and endanger the lives of Israeli citizens and IDF soldiers,” the IDF said in a statement.
“The IDF views the Hamas terror organization’s actions with great severity and will continue fulfilling its mission to protect Israeli civilians as necessary,” it also said, adding: “If its choice to keep following the path of terror instead of solving the Gaza residents’ distress, it will keep paying a heavy price that will grow as long as it takes.”
The rocket fire on Saturday night was the first since Hamas declared an informal ceasefire on Wednesday after a day in which Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired more than 100 rockets and mortars at southern Israeli communities.