JERUSALEM - Israel yesterday pressed Hamas to rein in rocket-firing militants in the Gaza Strip after the most serious outbreak of cross-border hostilities since a ceasefire ended an eight-day war in November.
The Israeli military said two rockets fired from Gaza Strip struck southern Israel yesterday, causing no casualties, hours after it launched its first air strikes in the Palestinian enclave in four months.
Israeli planes had gone into action on Tuesday, targeting what the military described as “two extensive terror sites in the northern Gaza Strip”, after three rockets were fired into Israel earlier that day.
An al-Qaeda-linked group, Magles Shoura al-Mujahadeen, claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s rocket salvo, saying it was responding to the death earlier in the day of a Palestinian prisoner in an Israel jail. There was no immediate claim for yesterday’s rocket fire.
Palestine accused Israel of failing to provide timely medical assistance for the prisoner, Maysara Abu Hamdeya, 64, who died in an Israeli hospital. Israel denied the allegation.
Israel said groups other than Hamas, an Islamist movement that rules the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, were behind the attacks. But it put the onus on Hamas to stop them.
“Israel’s armed forces decided to attack overnight to signal to Hamas that we won’t suffer any strike on the south. And any shooting will meet a response, in order to restore quiet for the south,” Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the military spokesman, said.
Hamas has at times cracked down on hardline Islamist Salafi groups, seeing them as a threat to the stability of the impoverished Gaza Strip. Tuesday was the third time since the November truce that rockets from Gaza have hit Israel.