IDF strikes Hamas positions after rocket fired from Gaza

Rocket may have been retaliation for three terrorists killed in Jenin shootout.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

The IDF struck a number of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning after Palestinians launched a rocket in the direction of Ashkelon.

The launch  — around 3:00 A.M. — marked the first Palestinian rocket fire at Israel since April. The rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome. Warning sirens were sounded in a number of Israeli agricultural communities near the border.

None of the Gaza terror groups claimed responsibility for the launch.

The IDF opted to wait till daylight to launch retaliatory strikes. According to the IDF, strikes hit a weapons production facility in central Gaza and three Hamas observation posts along the border.

Hamas quickly returned to one of the damaged border posts, opposite Kibbutz Netiv Ha’asara and hoisted a flag. Residents of the kibbutz were angered that the post wasn’t completely destroyed.

Later on Saturday, the kibbutz was targeted with machine gun fire from the Strip. No Israelis were injured, but one bullet entered a home causing some damage.

As a result of the rocket fire, Israel suspended plans to increase the number of work permits for Palestinians in Gaza. Israeli authorities announced on Thursday that 2,000 additional licenses would be made available for Palestinians seeking work in Israel.

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Walla News reported that the rocket may have been fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad after three of its gunmen were killed in a shootout with IDF forces in Jenin on Friday. An IDF reconnaissance unit operating in Jenin were attacked by gunmen firing guns and throwing explosives from a car.

Eight other Palestinians were injured during the shootout. There were no IDF casualties.

Palestinian media identified the three as Baraa Lahlouh, Laith Abu Srour and Yousef Salah and coverage included photos of all three posing with rifles. Lahlouh was said to be a member of Hamas but the affiliations of the other two weren’t clear.

Also on Friday, an IDF observation balloon crashed down in the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun.

The IDF said the balloon became detached from an anchor while Hamas said it was shot down by machine gun fire. Hamas claimed it captured the balloon along with its cameras and sensors while the IDF said it wasn’t concerned about any technology falling into Palestinian hands.