Israeli Air Force (IAF) planes struck several Hamas training camps Thursday morning, one day after a pair of long-range rockets fired from Gaza landed in Israel. One of the rockets fell in an open area near Kiryat Gat, the other in Ashkelon, damaging a road. Five people suffered minor injuries while running for cover after sirens went off signaling the impending strike in Ashkelon.
The Gaza City training camps reportedly belonged to Hamas' military wing. The IAF also targeted a smuggling tunnel in southern Gaza near the Egyptian border.
Gaza-based terrorists responded Thursday night, firing another rocket that landed near Kiryat Gat. Another early report said two rockets landed in the area, one exploding at a cattle barn. The IAF launched retaliatory strikes Thursday night.
Several days earlier, Gaza-based terrorists fired a rocket into southern Israel, wounding a 55-year-old Israeli Arab woman. The victim, a Bedouin shepherd, suffered shrapnel wounds.
After Wednesday's rocket attacks, Israel Defense Force (IDF) officials said they did not expect a larger escalation in attacks that despite a recent increase in rocket fire from Gaza. The most recent attacks had come from terrorists affiliated with al-Qaida and "Global Jihad elements," they said, rather than Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Four rockets were fired from Gaza in June; since the beginning of July, there have been more than 25.
Terrorist organizations in Gaza have shown no reluctance to operate in the open. They continue "to hold extensive training activities to increase their military-operational capabilities and bolster their image in the Gazan public eye," reports the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
Last week, for example, Hamas' military wing conducted training exercises that included firing light arms. And the PIJ held its own military exercise in which 400 operatives participated. The objective was to "prepare everything necessary to confront an instance of Zionist aggression."