Israeli air strikes hit Gaza after rocket attack

Military says strikes were a response to rocket fired from Gaza on Thursday

A picture taken in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip shows an explosion following an air strike by Israel on April 16, 2021. AFP
A picture taken in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip shows an explosion following an air strike by Israel on April 16, 2021. AFP

Israel carried out air strikes on the Gaza Strip early on Friday after a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave hit southern Israel, the military said.

Fighter jets and attack helicopters struck a "weapons manufacturing site, a weapon smuggling tunnel and a military post" operated by Hamas, the Islamist ruling party in Gaza, the Israeli military said.

"We will not tolerate any threat to Israeli civilians," the statement said.

A security source in Gaza told AFP there were no casualties from the strikes.

Israelis in the southern city of Sderot took cover late on Thursday after a rocket was fired from Gaza.

The rocket hit an open area and caused no casualties or damage, a regional council spokesman said.

Israel imposed a land and sea blockade on Gaza after Hamas seized control in 2007. They have since fought three wars.

A fragile truce held in recent years despite occasional flare-ups, with Palestinian militants firing rockets at Israel and the Israeli military responding with air strikes. Hamas says Israel does not commit itself to the ceasefire’s terms, which envision significant easing of Israeli restrictions on Gaza.

No Palestinian group claimed responsibility for Thursday's rocket launch but Israel usually blames Hamas for any attack from Gaza.

This year, Israel marked a decade since it began using the Iron Dome air defence system that has intercepted hundreds of rockets from Gaza and Syria.

Gaza's two million residents endure extreme poverty under the Egyptian and Israeli blockade and conditions have worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated: April 16, 2021 03:29 PM

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