IDF strikes in Gaza in response to nighttime rocket attack; 2 more rockets fired

The Israeli military carried out strikes in the Gaza Strip early Saturday morning, hours after several rockets were launched into Israel from the Hamas-ruled Palestinian enclave.

The Israel Defense Forces said it was targeting an underground Hamas facility used for the production of rocket materials in the central Gaza Strip, after two rockets were launched at the southern city of Ashkelon around 1 a.m. in the morning. The Palestinians reported that several strikes took place near Gaza City shortly before 5 a.m. Videos and photos showed large balls of fire rising after the strikes.

“The targeted site was one of the largest and most important sites in the Strip for the production of basic materials for rockets by terrorist groups,” the Israel Defense Forces said, saying the attack would delay considerably the manufacture of rockets.

The IDF regularly holds Hamas responsible for any attack emanating from Gaza.

Simultaneously, two more rockets were fired at Israel and warning sirens were activated in the Lakhish Regional Council in the northeast of the strip. Both rockets hit open areas, according to the IDF.

Also during the strikes, Palestinians fired heavy machine gun fire at Israeli aircraft over the coastal enclave.

In response to additional rocket and machine gun fire, the army struck another Hamas site, which it said was being used as a weapons production facility.

During the previous rocket attack, one of the rockets was intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system, while the other landed in an open area, causing no damage.

None of the Gaza-based terror groups immediately claimed responsibility for Saturday’s rocket attacks.

Balls of fire are seen following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on July 16, 2022. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said no physical injuries were reported from the rocket attacks, but two people were treated for anxiety in Ashkelon.

Footage posted on social media claimed to show the moment one of the rockets was intercepted by the Iron Dome.

The rocket fire came hours after US President Joe Biden left the country, and shortly after the US leader, currently in Saudi Arabia, announced a deal that includes steps from Riyadh towards normalization of relations with Israel.

The deal will see the transfer of a pair of Red Sea islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, and Riyadh allowing Israeli airlines to fly over its territory en route to the Far East. The Saudis are also expected to allow direct flights from Israel for Muslim pilgrims.

In 2020, the Gaza-ruling terror group Hamas launched a salvo of rockets south as Israel signed peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Biden left Israel earlier Friday, after a two-day trip that included meetings with Israeli leaders and a visit to East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In the past, Israel has responded with airstrikes against Hamas sites, regardless of which group launched the attack. More rarely, he directed his response against Islamic Jihad, if the terrorist group claimed responsibility.

The last time rockets were fired from the coastal enclave into Israel was on June 18. This attack was reportedly fired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in response to the deaths of three Palestinians killed in a shootout with Israeli troops the day before.

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