The airstrikes come after terror groups launch 37 projectiles at Israel throughout the day, following the death of hunger-striking Islamic Jihad member in Israeli prison.
By EMANUEL FABIANMay 3, 2023, 9:55 am
Smoke rises above buildings in Gaza City following an Israeli airstrike on May 2, 2023. Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP
The Israeli Air Force carried out airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday night in response to 37 rockets launched from the Palestinian enclave at southern Israel earlier in the day.
In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces said IAF jets targeted a number of sites belonging to the Hamas terror group.
The targets included a Hamas training camp; another base that housed a weapons production site, a concrete production plant, and a training site; a site belonging to the terror group’s naval commandos; and a tunnel used by Hamas in southern Gaza.
“The strike deals a serious blow to Hamas’s ability to fortify and arm itself,” the IDF said.
Palestinian media outlets reported that explosions were heard across northern and central Gaza. Footage published online showed large explosions rocking the territory.
One man was badly injured in an airstrike on a site belonging to Hamas, Palestinian media reported. There was no immediate confirmation by Hamas authorities.
Fire and smoke rise following an Israeli airstrike in northern Gaza Strip, late May 2, 2023. Photo: AP Photo/Fatima Shbair
The military wing of Hamas said its members fired missiles at Israeli aircraft over the Gaza Strip amid the strikes. The shoulder-launched missiles are not thought to pose a threat to Israeli fighter jets, although they have set off incoming rocket siren alarms in southern Israel in the past.
Amid the airstrikes, sirens sounded in the southern city of Sderot and other nearby towns close to the Gaza border.
The range of the rocket fire appeared to have increased from earlier, as sirens also sounded in the town of Talmei Bilu, northeast of Netivot, some 13 kilometres from Gaza.
Sirens continued to go off in communities near the Gaza border after midnight. There were no immediate confirmed rocket launches after those warnings, or reports of injuries or damage.
Israeli children look at a damaged car in the southern city of Sderot on May 2, 2023, following rocket fire from Gaza. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP
Earlier Tuesday, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza launched 37 rockets at southern Israel in a series of attacks, in response to the death of a hunger-striking senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group while he was in Israeli custody.
According to police, five rockets landed in urban areas, including one that hit a construction site in the southern city of Sderot and wounded three foreign nationals, one moderately and two lightly.
The Iron Dome air defense system intercepts a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip towards southern Israel, May 2, 2023. Photo: AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg
The IDF said the Iron Dome air defense system downed five of the rockets throughout the day. The rest landed in open areas or fell short, landing inside Gaza.
Israel had readied for a potential escalation after Palestinian Islamic Jihad member Khader Adnan died in Israeli custody early Tuesday morning following an 86-day hunger strike.
Shortly after Adnan’s death was announced, four rockets were fired from Gaza, causing no injuries. In response, IDF tanks struck a Hamas observation post near the border, but held off from immediately responding to the additional attacks throughout the day.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government had come under intense pressure to respond forcefully to the rocket barrages, with much of the pressure coming from within Netanyahu’s own coalition. The right-wing bloc’s approval rates have declined since it returned to power four months ago, promising to restore security, only to be met with a sustained series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks and security tensions on other fronts as well.
The so-called “Joint Operations Room” of various Palestinian terror factions in the Gaza Strip took responsibility for the rocket attacks.
In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, the collective, which includes both the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups, said the attacks came as a response to the death of Adnan.
Adnan was found unresponsive in his cell in Nitzan Prison in the central city of Ramle before dawn on Tuesday. He was brought to Shamir Medical Center outside Tel Aviv and underwent resuscitation efforts, but was declared dead at the hospital, the Israel Prisons Service said.
Adnan’s latest detention was his 10th stint in the Israeli prison system. Israeli officials said he had been detained 13 times overall.
Adnan had long been accused of being a spokesperson for Islamic Jihad, and had been arrested several times in recent years and served several prison sentences in connection with his activities for the group.
FILE – Khader Adnan, center, is greeted by Palestinians after his release from an Israeli prison in the West Bank village of Arrabeh near Jenin, July 12, 2015. Photo: AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed, File
After his arrest on February 5, Adnan was indicted on terror charges and was being held until the end of his trial. A hearing had been scheduled for May 10.
He had previously gone on hunger strikes four times to protest his detentions, including over an arrest in 2018. In that case, he was convicted of having been an active member of Islamic Jihad, a banned Iran-backed terror group, after he pleaded guilty in a plea bargain.
In 2012 he went on hunger strike for 66 days in protest against a term of internment without trial, a controversial practice Israel calls “administrative detention.” In 2015 he went without food for over 50 days after another arrest. He was also arrested for suspected terrorist activity in 2019.