By Erin Viner
Residents of the southern Israeli city of Sderot and neighboring communities along the Gaza border were sent running for bomb shelters yesterday evening, after air raid sirens alerted against incoming terrorist rockets. One woman in her fifties was lightly wounded when she fell while rushing to seek cover, and was evacuated to hospital for medical treatment.
The IDF said that two incoming rockets had been fired and were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
In competing claims, both the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) terror groups said they were behind the attack. The PIJ said it came in revenged of Israel’s placement in solitary confinement of Palestinian prisoners who had celebrated the series deadly of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem that claimed the lives of seven people this past weekend; while the DFLP said it was in protest of the “systematic aggression” against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
In a swift overnight response to the attack from the lawless Palestinian enclave, Israeli Air Force (IAF) warplanes “destroyed weapon production and storage sites belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization,” said Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant this morning, stressing, “Every attempt to harm our citizens will be met with the full force of the IDF.”
The IDF revealed that a Hamas site for raw chemical material production, preservation and storage and a weapon manufacturing facility in central Gaza were demolished.
“The strike significantly harms the capabilities and prevents further weapon acquisition capabilities of the Hamas Terrorist Organization,” said the IDF in a statement obtained by TV7, emphasizing that the military “holds the Islamist group “responsible for all terror activity emanating from the Gaza Strip and it will face the consequences of the security violations against Israel.”
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades military wing of Hamas claimed it fought against the IAF strikes by launching surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft missiles.
The exchange, coming just days after the United States urged all sides to calm escalating violence, follows a familiar pattern that signals neither side is seeking a wider conflict.
Last year was the deadliest in more than a decade in the West Bank districts of Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley. Violence has steadily escalated since a resurgence of lethal Palestinian attacks that killed 31 in Israel last year, prompting Jerusalem to launch Operation Waves Breaker aimed at eradicating Arab terror.
Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who oversees prisons, responded to Wednesday’s rocket launch by announcing he will advance plans to toughen conditions for Palestinian prisoners.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced that Jerusalem, which collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA), will use ₪ 100 million shekels (about $29.38 million or € 26.718) from PA funds to compensate victims of Palestinian terror attacks, as a means to counter Ramallah’s “Pay to Slay” program that awards payments to Palestinian terrorists and their families on a graduating scale determined by the severity of their crimes.