By ISRAEL HAYOM—
Palestinian terrorists fired two rockets at the southern Israeli city of Sderot on Wednesday morning. The rockets exploded in an open area and no injuries or damage were reported. The attacks followed strikes by the Israel Air Force against two terror targets in Gaza Strip on Tuesday night, which in turn followed mortar fire at Israel’s south on Tuesday afternoon.
The Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit said, “Israeli aircraft targeted two extensive terror sites in northern Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire from Gaza Strip at Israel.” The statement further said that the pilots recorded direct hits.
According to Gaza’s Safa news agency, the IAF struck a factory in the Sajaiya neighborhood and an open area in the northern town of Beit Lahiya. There were no reports of injuries. “Occupation planes bombarded an open area in northern Gaza; there were none wounded,” a statement from the Hamas Interior Ministry said.
Tuesday night’s strikes marked the first time the IAF has attacked in Gaza since Israel and Hamas began observing an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire in November, following Operation Pillar of Defense. Tuesday was the third time since the November truce that rockets from Gaza have hit Israel.
An al-Qaida-linked group called Magles Shoura al-Mujahedeen claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s rocket fire on Israel. Two mortar shells landed near the Israel-Gaza border and two others exploded in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council, causing no harm. Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yalin said that the Color Red alert did not sound ahead of the mortars’ impact.
“We will not allow a situation like we had before Operation Pillar of Defense to happen again,” IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said, referring to the constant rocket fire from Gaza that led to Israel’s November offensive.
“Hamas understands that there are new rules now. The past five months have been the quietest since the disengagement .”
And Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said, “The IDF struck Gaza last night because we hold Hamas responsible for anything fired from Gaza at Israel. We will not abide a trickle of rocket fire on Israeli civilians or security forces … such incidents will meet a forceful response.”
The IDF also said that 20 wanted Palestinians were apprehended in an overnight operation across Judea and Samaria. The raid spanned the Palestinian city of Tulkarem, the towns of Beit Furik and Taysir next to Nablus, and the villages of Beit Lakia, near Ramallah, Burkin, west of Jenin and Bani Na’im, east of Hebron.
The men were turned over to the defense establishment for further interrogation.
Also on Tuesday, teachers in a Sderot preschool who were preparing it for the children’s return from the Passover break, discovered that the building had sustained severe damage from a Qassam rocket. IDF and police forces called to the scene determined that the projectile was most likely one of the five shells that were fired from Gaza at the city during U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel two weeks ago. The preschool was empty at the time.
“This could have ended with a catastrophe,” Sderot Mayor David Buskila told Israel Hayom. The municipality said the preschool, which is only partially fortified against rocket fire, would remain closed until all the necessary repairs were made.