Israel warplanes strike Gaza after rocket fire

The scene of an Israeli air strike on a Hamas security forces site in the southern Gaza Strip on Oct 17, 2018. The latest rocket fire from Gaza, which caused no casualties or damage, was the first since Oct 17, 2018.
The scene of an Israeli air strike on a Hamas security forces site in the southern Gaza Strip on Oct 17, 2018. The latest rocket fire from Gaza, which caused no casualties or damage, was the first since Oct 17, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli warplanes hit Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip early on Thursday (Oct 25) in response to rocket fire from the territory into southern Israel, the army said.

The fighter jets targeted a military compound in the northern Gaza Strip and a training facility and a munitions manufacturing and storage site in the south, it said in a statement.

Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas said there were no casualties in the strikes.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the raids were in response to a rocket fired from Gaza which caused no casualties or damage but which evaded Israel's Iron Dome defence system, triggering an inquiry.

It was the first such fire from Gaza since Oct 17, when a rocket severely damaged a family home in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, prompting some 20 retaliatory air strikes and the temporary suspension of fuel deliveries to Gaza.

Hamas and its allies disavowed the recent rocket fire, blaming fringe groups bent on sabotaging UN and Egyptian efforts to broker a long-term truce in return for a relaxation of Israel's crippling 11-year blockade of the impoverished territory.

But Israel has vowed repeatedly to hold Hamas to blame for any rocket fire regardless of who launched it.

"The Hamas terror organisation is responsible for all events transpiring in the Gaza Strip and emanating from it," the army said on Thursday.

The latest flare-up comes after months of Palestinian protests along the Gaza border that have drawn a deadly response from Israeli troops.

The protesters have been demanding an end to Israel's blockade and the right of return to land now inside Israel, from which their families were expelled or fled during the 1948 war that accompanied its creation.

More than 200 Palestinians have been killed in the territory by Israeli fire since the protests began on March. One Israeli soldier has been killed in the border area over the same period.

The air force on Wednesday struck a position in Gaza used by protesters to launch incendiary balloons into Israel, the military said.

Palestinian fire kites and balloons have destroyed large areas of Israeli farmland, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of crop losses.