IDF strikes Islamic Jihad posts after Palestinians fire 20 rockets at Israel

The barrage was launched after the IDF eliminated a terrorist who tried to plant a bomb next to the Gaza-Israel security barrier.

By Associated Press

Palestinians fired some 20 rockets toward southern Israel on Sunday evening, hours after Israel eliminated a terrorist who tried to place a bomb along the Israel-Gaza barrier fence.

The Israeli military reported air raid sirens throughout southern Israel, and said at least 20 rockets had been fired.

There was no immediate claim for the rocket fire, but it appeared to be meant to avenge the death of the terrorist.

In response, the Israeli aircraft struck Islamic Jihad operatives “preparing to launch rockets from the northern Gaza Strip at Israeli territory” Sunday night.

Israel’s Home Front Command ordered the suspension of classes in Israeli schools in southern Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip on Monday and prohibited large gatherings.

Meanwhile, there was criticism in Gaza of the territory’s Hamas rulers for not responding.

There were no reports of damage or injuries on the Israeli side, but it was the heaviest barrage of rockets from the Gaza Strip in several months. Air raid sirens continued into the evening.

Israel and the Islamic Jihad group engaged in a heavy round of fighting last November after the Israeli military assassinated a top Islamic Jihad commander.

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Since then, Israel and Gaza’s more powerful Hamas group have been working through Egyptian mediators to cement an informal cease-fire. But Islamic Jihad has continued to try to carry out attacks.

Islamic Jihad said the man killed along the border was a “militant.” Amateur video on Palestinian social media allegedly showed an Israeli bulldozer crossing into Gaza and then lifting up his body.

The military said it was removing the body in a way that prevented further danger to those around.

It sparked criticism of Hamas on social media, with people accusing the group of appearing weak and allowing Israel to operate with impunity inside Gaza’s territory. One image on social media showed a picture of Jesus draped with a Palestinian flag hanging off the front of a bulldozer.

Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett rejected the criticism, noting that Hamas has been holding the bodies of two Israeli soldiers since they were killed in the 2014 Gaza war.

“I back the military, which killed the terrorists and collected the body,” he said. “That’s what should be done and that is what was done.”

The incident comes amid a relative lull along the security fence separating Israel from Gaza. Last week, Israel announced it would provide hundreds of additional work permits for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in a new step aimed at solidifying an informal cease-fire with the Hamas.