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Israel responds to rocket attack on Ashkelon

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Israel’s air force (IAF) struck two Hamas targets last night in response to a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip.

The rocket landed in an open area, believed to be a building site, without causing casualties. Warning sirens were sounded in both Ashkelon and the nearby Hof Ashkelon Regional Council shorty before 9pm.

According to a source within Gaza reported by the AFP news agency, Israel’s strike caused significant damage to two bases belonging to Hamas’s military wing. Staff at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City confirmed that three people were being treated for injuries.

The IDF said: “IAF aircraft targeted two Hamas posts in the northern Gaza Strip.” Although no group has claimed responsibility for the rocket attack, Israel holds Hamas responsible for any rockets being fired from Gaza. The IAF responded similarly to another rocket attack in June by striking at a series of Hamas targets.

Although Hamas has generally refrained from launching rocket attacks into Israel since the end of Operation Protective Edge, the group continues to invest significantly in developing an underground tunnel network to attack Israel and encourages operatives in the West Bank to carry out terrorist attacks.

Recent moves by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council to define Hamas as a terror group, along with Egypt perceiving it as an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood, have left Hamas increasingly isolated in the Arab world. Hamas have responded by trying to forge closer ties with Iran.

A severe energy crisis in the Gaza Strip has been exacerbated by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to stop paying for Gaza’s energy bill.