Mon, Apr 29, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Israel responds to Gaza rockets with airstrike

STERN WARNING:In response to Saturday’s rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the perpetrators would ‘pay a heavy price’

AP, JERUSALEM

Ultra-Orthodox Jews hold a candle for the Havdala ritual during a ceremony at the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai at the start of the day-long holiday of Lag Baomer in the northern Israeli village of Meron yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Israel responded to rockets fired from the Gaza Strip with airstrikes on sites used by Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules the Palestinian territory, the military said yesterday.

It said its jets struck “a terrorist weapon storage facility and a Hamas training installation” after rockets landed in southern Israel the night before.

It also closed a closed a key border crossing with the territory.

Gaza health officials said nobody was hurt in the strikes.

On Saturday, thousands of Israelis had been outside in parks and forests celebrating the Jewish holiday of Lag Baomer with traditional bonfires. The rockets exploded in open areas and caused no injuries.

Rocket fire from Gaza has declined since a military campaign in November last year, before which militants were firing rockets on an almost daily basis and launching other attacks on Israeli towns across the border. However, sporadic fire still persists.

The military said it “will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli civilians” and that it will not allow the situation to return to where it stood before the November campaign.

Israel holds Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers responsible for all attacks from the territory. No group claimed responsibility for the latest rocket attacks.

A shadowy extremist Muslim Salafi group was behind recent attacks, including one last month where rockets were fired from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after that attack that the perpetrators will “pay a heavy price.”

Hamas sees the Salafis as a threat to its rule and routinely arrest members of the ultraconservative movement in Gaza.

Salafis view even Hamas’ hardline interpretation of Islamic law as too moderate and the two groups have clashed violently in the past.

Along with the airstrikes, Israel responded to Saturday’s rocket fire by closing the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza.

It said another terminal would be open for humanitarian cases.

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