Sirens heard in southern Israel as missile fire pierces calm for fourth time in recent weeks; IDF says missile may have hit house in Gaza
(SOURCE) A rocket was shot from Gaza toward southern Israel Thursday night, the latest apparent attack amid an uptick in missile fire.
Sirens were heard in the Ashkelon region just north of the strip a little after 10 p.m., sending residents scurrying for shelter.
The Israel Defense Forces said one rocket was shot from Gaza at southern Israel. Sirens were heard in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council and the city of Ashkelon, the army said.
The IDF later said it was unable to locate an impact site and concluded the rocket had fallen short inside Gaza without reaching Israel.
Citing Palestinian reports, the army said there were indications the rocket had hit a house inside the densely populated Palestinian enclave, possibly causing casualties.
Sirens were also heard in the Lachish region, about 40 kilometers inland from Gaza, and officials were searching there for a rocket as well, Army Radio reported.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The last several weeks have seen a marked increase in rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, all from small Palestinian factions that rival the enclave’s Hamas rulers.
The attacks have each meet met with Israeli airstrikes on Hamas facilities, ramping up tensions between the sides.
Israel says it holds Hamas responsible for all Gaza rocket fire and officials have vowed to respond forcefully to any attacks.
Earlier this week, Hamas officials warned that there could be a serious conflagration if Israel continued to strike Hamas facilities in response to the rocket fire.
The last two rocket attacks, including one Saturday night, were claimed by the so-called Omar Brigades, a hard-line Salafist group that swears allegiance to the Islamic State.
Hamas has been cracking down on Salafists in the Strips for several weeks, with the Salafists responding by shooting rockets as a way to draw Israel into weakening the group, according to sources in Gaza.
Israel and Hamas have both mostly kept to a ceasefire since fighting a 50-day war over the last summer, partially sparked by an increase in rocket fire from Gaza.