Israel Strikes Hamas Terror Targets After 12 Rockets Fired From Gaza

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -
The Iron Dome anti-missile system fires interception missiles as rockets are launched from Gaza towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Thursday. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

Palestinian terrorists fired 12 rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip overnight, nine of which were intercepted, and Israel responded with three airstrikes on terror targets linked to the territory’s Hamas rulers, the IDF said early Friday.

It was the most serious exchange of fire along the Gaza frontier in months, but there were no reports of casualties. Police said buildings and vehicles in Israel were damaged, and that bomb-disposal units had been dispatched to pick up shrapnel and rocket parts.

In recent weeks, groups affiliated with Hamas have launched incendiary balloons into Israel, igniting farmland in a bid to pressure Israel to ease the blockade it imposed on Gaza when Hamas seized power in 2007. The rocket fire marks a significant escalation.

The latest exchange of fire began late Thursday when terrorists fired two rockets that landed near the security fence. A few hours later, a volley of three rockets was intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system. Another seven rockets were fired early Friday, six of which were shot down.

The IDF said it carried out airstrikes targeting Hamas military infrastructure, including a compound used to manufacture rocket ammunition, in response.

It was the most serious cross-border exchange since February, when the smaller Islamic Jihad terror group fired dozens of rockets into Israel after one of its terrorists was killed near the border while allegedly planting explosives. Israel struck dozens of terror targets across the territory.