Israel retaliates for rocket fire from Gaza
Israel responded with airstrikes Saturday to a salvo of rockets fired by militants from the Gaza Strip into its territory overnight, saying it held Gaza’s rulers, Hamas, responsible for the flare-up and that it had evidence that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ al-Quds force was behind the latest escalation.
Israeli army spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said jets had struck more than 80 targets across the Palestinian enclave, including command posts, weapons manufacturing facilities and a four-story building housing Hamas’ general security agency.
“We hold Hamas responsible for everything coming from Gaza,” Conricus said. “All violence and provocations are Hamas’ responsibility. The humanitarian improvements made recently should have caused Hamas to rein in the terror, but it allows a violent atmosphere to continue.”
It has been Israel’s longstanding policy to hold Hamas, the militant Islamist group that rules Gaza and is viewed as a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States, responsible for each round of violence, even if other Gaza-based factions claim responsibility for the attacks.
Conricus said the army was aware Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Gaza’s second largest militant group, was behind the latest round of rockets. He said the group was working “under guidance, instruction and incentives from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Quds force, based in Damascus.”
The army later said eight of the targets it struck belonged to the group.
Islamic Jihad immediately took responsibility for firing the rockets, saying it was in response to the “continuing coldblooded killing by the Israeli occupation and the continued shedding of the blood of peaceful civilians.” On Saturday morning, the group issued an additional statement announcing a ceasefire.
Earlier Friday, Hamas’ Health Ministry in Gaza said Israeli forces killed six Palestinians involved in the ongoing protests at the border fence.