Israel Defense Forces have launched a series of airstrikes against alleged “terror targets” in Gaza in retaliation to rocket fire from the enclave on the southern Israeli city of Be’er Sheva.
The IDF said its attack early on Wednesday morning was triggered by overnight rocket fire from the Palestinian territory on what is Israel’s fourth most populous metropolitan area. Locals in Be’er Sheva scrambled to reach bomb shelters when sirens went off around 4:00am.
The projectile struck near a residential home, Israeli media report. The Israeli police said the rocket “caused damage”, without specifying the extent of the destruction. While no deaths have been reported, six people were allegedly treated for trauma by paramedics.
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDFSpokesperson) October 17, 2018
While the IDF has yet to identify the perpetrator of Wednesday’s attack, in the past the Israeli army has nearly always pinned the blame on Hamas, holding the military organization accountable for anything threatening that is happening in Gaza.
The latest escalation in tensions comes after months of Palestinian protests on the Gaza border, which prompt the IDF to engage the rioters with deadly force. More than 204 Palestinians have been killed and over 22,000 others injured by Israeli forces since the Great March of Return began on March 30.
On Tuesday, Israel’s defense minister noted that Tel Aviv is “not prepared to accept the level of violence” witnessed every week. Avigdor Lieberman also urged the cabinet to authorize a military campaign against Hamas in Gaza to put end to violence.
The last major Israeli intrusion into Gaza began in July 2014, when the IDF launched Operation Protective Edge with the stated aim of halting rocket attacks on Israeli territory. The seven-week long conflict is estimated to have claimed over 2,100 Palestinian lives, with another 10,000 injured in the offensive.
Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip has also caused widespread damage to homes and infrastructure. For its part Israel lost seven of its soldiers and five civilians from Hamas rocket fire. Another 469 IDF soldiers and 261 Israeli civilians were injured.