Israeli forces shell targets in northern Gaza after rocket falls in Sderot
BETHLEHEM (MA’an) — Israeli forces fired artillery shells at targets in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, an hour after a rocket fired from the blockaded Gaza Strip landed on a road inside the Israeli city of Sderot Wednesday morning.
No injuries have been reported on either side.
Witnesses told Ma’an that at least one Israeli artillery shell landed in a military training ground for Palestinian fighters in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, without identifying the group or organization for which the training ground was used. However, Israeli media sites claimed the site was used by the Hamas movement.
Local sources in the besieged coastal enclave said Israeli reconnaissance planes were hovering over Beit Hanoun.
Earlier Monday morning at around 10:30 a.m., rocket sirens were sounded in Sderot and nearby communities bordering the Gaza Strip, with Israeli forces later searching the area and discovering the exploded rocket. An Israeli army spokesperson said that the road was damaged.
Israeli forces have since closed off the area, and a number of Israelis in Sderot were reportedly “treated for shock,” following the incident.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported later that the Salafist group Ahfad al-Sahaba claimed responsibility for the rocket fire.
The Israeli army has previously said they held the Hamas movement — the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip — responsible for all attacks from the territory, although other Palestinian militant groups are active in the small coastal enclave.
September’s airstrikes came as the second wave of Israeli shelling to strike the besieged Gaza Strip in the span of a month, while a few weeks earlier the Israeli army fired missiles into the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun that left at least five Palestinians injured in late August, after a rocket fired from Gaza fell inside Sderot, with no injuries or damage reported by the Israeli army.
On July 1, Israeli forces launched airstrikes at several sites allegedly used by Palestinian factions in the besieged coastal enclave in response to a rocket fired from Gaza which landed in Sderot.
In May, a Palestinian woman was killed during several consecutive days of sustained airstrikes and tank shelling from Israeli forces, allegedly in response to cross-border mortar shelling and a rocket being fired from the Gaza Strip.
The majority of the more than 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are sealed inside the coastal enclave due to a near-decade long military blockade imposed by Israel and upheld by Egypt on the southern border.
The crippling blockade was imposed following the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections and the subsequent 2007 clashes between Fatah and Hamas, which left Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip and Fatah in control of the occupied West Bank.