Building in southern city ablaze after suffering direct hit; another rocket lands in open territory; no immediate reports of injuries
A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip slammed into a factory in the southern city of Sderot on Saturday evening, setting the building ablaze.
Emergency services were on site to battle the fire, and ensure no one was inside. There were no immediate reports of injuries as it is believed to have been empty due to the Sabbath.
Another rocket likely landed in open territory, according to initial reports.
The rocket fire came after Israel and Gaza operatives have been engaged in a series of retaliatory attacks over the past 48 hours.
Early Saturday morning, Israel planes struck Hamas military targets in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire from the Palestinian territory hours before.
Residents of the coastal enclave reported multiple explosions, and the IDF said in a statement that it targeted “two terror activity sites and a weapons manufacturing facility in the central Gaza Strip, and a weapons storage facility in the southern Gaza Strip.” The Israeli military confirmed direct hits.
Saturday’s pre-dawn hits on the Gaza Strip came amid an escalation of hostilities along Israel’s southern border with the Palestinian enclave as IDF troops scour the West Bank for three missing Israeli teenagers. Israel has accused Hamas of carrying out the June 12 abduction of the teens.
On Friday evening, Israel’s Iron Dome system intercepted two rockets launched at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip following the targeted assassination by Israel of two Gaza operatives.
A total of six rockets were fired from Gaza Friday, with the remaining four landing in open territory. No damage or injuries were reported in the attacks.
On Saturday, unverified footage posted to YouTube on Saturday appeared to show the Israeli air strike on the car carrying the two terrorists Friday.
The footage shows a vehicle driving along a coastal road before being struck. Passersby remain seemingly unharmed.
Israel confirmed carrying out the targeted killing of Osama Hassumi, 29, and Mohammad Fatzih, 24, on Friday, charging that they were involved in a cell responsible for repeated rocket fire on Israel’s southern cities over the past several weeks and were planning terror attacks on Israeli civilians.
“Militants, like Hassumi and Fatzih, attacking Israel from Gaza, are not safe, do not have immunity, and will not be free to plan, plot and operate. We will continue to strike the instigators and agitators with patience, determination and precision. Gaza rocket terrorism does not pay,” said IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner on Friday.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Friday that Hamas was responsible for every attack emanating from the Gaza Strip and warned the terror group not to test Israel’s patience or determination. His warning came after a spate of rocket attacks on Israel’s southern cities and several incidents on the border with Gaza over the past week.
“We will not allow rocket fire on Israel or attempted attacks on our civilians or troops. We will hunt down those who carry out or plan [these attacks], like we did today,” said Ya’alon.
Friday’s incidents came a day after Israel named two Hamas men as prime suspects in the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.
Earlier Friday, an explosive device was activated against IDF troops operating along the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported in the incident.
Israeli forces responded with tank fire at suspected lookout posts near Khan Younis on the Palestinian side of the Gaza border, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit reported.
Palestinian media reported six injured by the IDF retaliatory fire, including one in critical condition. A pregnant woman and an 11-year-old boy were said to be among the wounded, and two mosques were damaged, according to Ma’an.
Lazar Berman, Stuart Winer and AFP contributed to this report.