Israeli strikes hit militant targets in Gaza after rocket fire

Attack comes after two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel on Saturday morning

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Israel launched strikes against militant targets in the Gaza Strip a day after rockets were fired from territory ruled by the Palestinian Hamas group.

Video filmed in Khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip shows three huge explosions – fighter jets flying overhead can be heard.

The Israeli military early on Sunday said the attacks were aimed at a Hamas rocket manufacturing plant and a military post. It also blamed the militant group for any violence emanating from the territory it controls.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The air strikes came as retaliation for two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning, which fell into the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Tel Aviv.

It was not clear whether the rockets were meant to hit Israel, but militant groups in Gaza often test-fire missiles towards the sea. There were no reports of casualties from Saturday’s rocket launches.

A fragile ceasefire came into force in late May and since then only five rockets or mortar rounds were fired from Gaza towards Israeli territory, the military said in an annual report released at the end of December, before the latest launches.

The ceasefire, brokered by Egypt and other mediators, is a fragile one. Hamas says Israel has not taken serious steps to ease the blockade it imposed on Gaza with Egypt’s help when the militant movement seized control of the coastal enclave in 2007.

On Wednesday, Palestinian militants in Gaza shot and lightly wounded an Israeli civilian near the security fence and Israel responded with tank fire aimed at Hamas sites – the first such exchange in months.

Egyptian officials called on Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in Gaza to stop their actions, which Israel consider provocative, and for Israel to accelerate arrangements agreed upon as part of the ceasefire, said an Egyptian diplomat with knowledge of the negotiations.

“Neither side wants a full-blown war,” the diplomat said. “They just want guarantees and steps on the ground.”

Even as tensions with Hamas have risen, the smaller Islamic Jihad militant group has threatened military action against Israel if a hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner dies.

Hisham Abu Hawash, an Islamic Jihad member held by Israel under administrative detention, has been on a hunger strike for more than 130 days.

Israel’s controversial policy of administrative detention allows suspects to be held indefinitely, without charge.

Israel says the practice is necessary to keep dangerous suspects in custody without disclosing critical intelligence that could expose sources. Palestinians and rights groups say the policy is a breach of due process.

Updated: January 02, 2022, 3:34 PM