Terrorists based in the Gaza Strip fired  two rockets at Israel’s southern district late on Thursday as the state was celebrating its 67th Independence Day. One rocket exploded in an open, uninhabited area near Sderot while another fell short and landed within the Strip. While no casualties were reported, and no group claimed responsibility for the attack, an initial investigation  by the IDF concluded that the rockets may have been fired by members of a rival Islamist group that is challenging Hamas for authority within Gaza.
The rockets triggered code red sirens across Sderot and other border communities, giving residents up to 15 seconds to find shelter before the impending strikes. One resident said , “We heard the siren, grabbed our child and rushed to the safe room […] At first we thought it was a false alarm, probably because the rain had messed up the siren. Then we heard a loud explosion. The child was very scared, as were we. We closed the steel shutter which had been open for months.”
IDF tanks responded  by firing at a target in Beit Hanoun, from which the rockets were launched; no injuries were reported. In a statement, IDF officials said that they “will not condone any effort to harm the security of the people of Israel.” Security forces further warned  that they, “See Hamas as the body [responsible] for the firing, and expect it to keep the peace in it’s territory. Hamas is the body controlling the area, and must see to quiet – otherwise, it will suffer the consequences. We will not accept a state of errant fire.”
Thursday’s attacks marked the first rocket fire of 2015 and the fourth time rockets from terrorists in Gaza had violated the truce reached between Israel and Hamas on August 26th, which ended fifty days of open hostilities during Operation Protective Edge. The previous attack came over four months ago on December 20th, when Palestinian terrorists fired a rocket into Israel’s Eshkol region that landed in a farm. At the time, no injuries were reported, and the IDF retaliated by targeting Hamas positions in southern Gaza.
Since 2001, Hamas and other Gaza terrorist groups have fired tens of thousands of rockets, mortars and shells into Israel. Israel has responded by imposing a blockade on the Strip, which went into effect shortly after Hamas was elected in 2006 and is enforced in conjunction with Egypt. Israeli authorities closed  border crossings with Gaza as a result of Thursday’s attack.
[Photo: tipinfo / Flickr  ]