Palestinian militants fired a rocket toward a city in southern Israel on Saturday, 18 June, drawing Israeli air strikes, the Israeli military said, after months of relative calm in the area.
There were no immediate reports of casualties in Gaza or Israel, which intercepted the rocket that was launched toward the city of Ashkelon, setting off air-raid sirens and sending residents into bomb shelters.
Israel said Hamas, the militant group which controls Gaza, fired the rocket. There was no immediate response from Hamas, nor a claim of responsibility from any of the territory’s other militant groups.
The Israeli military said in a statement: “In response to the rocket attack, Israel Defence Forces aircraft struck a number of Hamas terror targets on the Gaza Strip.”
The Israel-Gaza frontier has been relatively calm since May 2021, when Israel and Palestinian militants fought an 11-day war.
On various videos circulating around, explosions could be seen from Gaza after Israeli air strikes. Blasts going off in a post located near the border could be seen in Gaza from the Israeli side following an Israeli air strike on Hamas sites in the strip, could also be seen on video.
Although Saturday’s cross-border fire did not appear to signal a wider escalation, violence has risen in the occupied West Bank and in Israel in recent months.
On Friday, June 17, Israeli troops killed three Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank city of Jenin, where military raids have been stepped up after men from the area carried out several lethal street attacks in Israel. Hamas said one of the gunmen was among its members, while another militant group that draws on members of Palestinian faction Islamic Jihad claimed the deceased gunmen as its own.
US-brokered peace talks aiming to establish a Palestinian state in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza collapsed in 2014 and there is no sign of their revival.
President Joe Biden of the US is expected to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders during a visit to the region in July.