BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – Israeli warplanes attacked multiple targets in the Gaza Strip early Thursday morning, witnesses and Palestinian security sources said.Airstrikes targeted three training bases of the Izzadine al-Qassam brigades, the military wing of Hamas, in Gaza City and a fourth in the southern city of Khan Younis.No injuries or casualties were reported.
An Israeli military statement spoke only of three hits in total and did not give their location or identify the targets.The airstrikes came after the Israeli army confirmed two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip late Wednesday night.”Yesterday, June 3, 2015, two rockets were launched at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip,” it said adding that they fell on open ground near the southern city of Ashkelon and the town of Netivot, with no injuries or damage immediately reported.
A militant Salafi organization, identified in a statement posted on Twitter as Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade, claimed responsibility for the rocket fire saying it was in response to the “killing of an IS fighter in Gaza a day ago by Hamas militants.””We are continuing with our jihad against the Jews, the enemies of God and no one will be able to deter us,” the statement added.Hamas security forces reportedly shot dead a Salafist leader in Gaza City Tuesday during an attempt to arrest the man for having “illegal” weapons.
The incident came as Hamas stepped up measures against militants belonging to “Islamic extremist groups,” some of whom self-identify as Salafists.Little is known about the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade, the group’s claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s rocket attacks, or any potential influence they hold inside of the Gaza Strip.Israel has a general policy of holding Hamas responsible for every rocket attack from the territory under its control, regardless of which group actually launched it.
Israeli public radio alleged that Tuesday’s rocket fire was related to current infighting between the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers and its extremist opponents.Since the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas last summer there have reportedly been growing signs of internal unrest between Hamas security forces and extremist splinter groups.Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon warned of the potential for greater force, Israeli media reporting the minister saying, “We will not tolerate attempts to hurt our citizens…tonight the IDF responded resolutely to the rocket fire. We will strike harder if we must, and last summer has proven that.” Meanwhile, UNRWA and rights groups have warned that continuing restrictions by Israel are hampering the ability for Gaza’s 1.8 million residents to rebuild and recover from last summer’s war- the third war in six years- and is resulting in growing unrest.
Thursday morning’s airstrikes came as Israeli forces continued near-daily incursions into the Gaza Strip, shooting and injuring one east of Khan Younis and detaining four fishermen off the coast of Gaza City the day prior.AFP contributed to this report.