Rockets have been fired from Gaza into southern Israel just hours after Israeli forces launched an air strike on the Palestinian territory.
Militants in Gaza fired two rockets towards Negev this morning, according to Israeli news website Ynet.com. No injuries or damage were reported.
Residents in Sderot reportedly heard explosions at around 7.30 this morning and the rockets landed in an open area.
Speaking before the latest rocket attack, Israeli defence minister Moshe Yaalon said the military would not sit back while militants attack southern Israel.
“We will not in any way allow a routine of rocket fire steadily dripping on our civilians and soldiers,” Yaalon said in a statement.
Last night Israel launched its first strike on Gaza since the eight day war with Hamas in November, responding to a rocket attack from the Palestinian territory earlier in the day.
An Israeli military statement said its planes targeted “two extensive terror sites” with “accurate hits”.
Palestinian officials said no one was hurt in the air strikes and no damage was reported in northern Gaza. “Occupation planes bombarded an open area in northern Gaza, there were no wounded,” a statement from the Hamas interior ministry said.
A ceasefire agreed last year has largely held, although yesterday’s attack on southern Israel was the third time militants in Gaza have fired rockets at southern Israel. The Israeli army does not believe that Hamas fighters had fired the rockets in previous attacks, blaming other smaller groups, but holds Hamas responsible for any attack against the Jewish state.
The rocket was fired yesterday in response to the death in prison from cancer of member of Hamas. Palestinian officials blamed Israel for not providing sufficient medical care for Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh. The 64 year-old had been in prison since 2002 when he was convicted of planning to blow up a café in Jerusalem.
His death sparked protests in Israeli prisons and in several towns across the West Bank. In the flashpoint city of Hebron, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters.
The last time rockets fell on southern Israel was during the visit of Barack Obama. The Israelis said at the time that they would not respond with lethal force during the American president’s visit, but did tighten sanctions on Gaza, such as cutting the area in which fisherman are able to work.
The war last November killed nearly 170 Palestinians in Gaza and six Israelis. The Israeli military pounded the small isolated territory, while as many as 1,500 rockets were fired at largely civilian areas, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. More than 2,000 rockets had been fired in the months leading up to the war.
The war came two months before Israel’s latest general election.