Israeli tanks and aircraft attacked at least 30 different sites in the Gaza Strip after a rocket was fired into Israel from the coastal enclave on Sunday.
The retaliation, which Hamas warned was an “escalation,” came after unknown terrorists launched the rocket towards the town of Sderot, where it landed in a residential area causing no injuries or damage. No group claimed responsibility.
Multiple airstrikes in the north targeted the town of Beit Hanoun, injuring a Palestinian teenager. One Israeli shell is reported to have hit a water tower. In Gaza, hundreds of youngsters were forced to take cover at a televised music festival.
Army spokesman Peter Lerner said Israel had acted “to bring quiet to the people of southern Israel,” adding: “When terrorists in Hamas’ Gaza Strip, driven by a radical agenda based on hatred, attack people in the middle of the summer vacation, their intentions are clear – to inflict pain, cause fear and to terrorise.”
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: “We hold (Israel) responsible for the escalation in the Gaza Strip and we stress that its aggression will not succeed in breaking the will of our people and dictate terms to the resistance.”
There have now been 14 rockets fired into Israel in 2016, including one which hit a building in Sderot on 2 July, causing damage but no injuries.
Ruling group Hamas has repeatedly said it does not seek war, but while its own armed wing is bound by the ceasefire with Israel, other terror groups operate in the territory, including Islamic Jihad. Israel holds Hamas responsible for all actions in the Strip.