In response to recent rocket barrages against Israel’s southern towns, the Israeli Air Force struck 34 targets in the Gaza Strip early Tuesday, carrying out “precision strikes” against Hamas and Islamic Jihad structures, reports The Times of Israel.
Following some 20 rockets which were fired at Israel since Sunday evening, “IAF aircraft carried out a precision strike against 34 targets in the Gaza Strip,” the Israel Defense Forces said early Tuesday.
Four people were injured, according to Israel Radio citing Palestinian sources.
“The IDF will continue to act in order to restore the peaceful living to the civilians of the state of Israel. The Hamas terror organization and its extensions are solely responsible for any terror activities emanating from the Gaza Strip,” IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said.
One rocket fired from the Gaza Strip early Tuesday caused damage to several Israeli cars and a fire close to a packaging plant.
Though the IAF air strikes were officially in response to recent rocket attacks, it did not go unnoticed that they came hours after the bodies of kidnapped and murdered Israeli teenagers — Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gil-ad Shaar, 16 and Naftali Fraenkel, 16 — were found partially buried in a field near the West Bank village of Halhul, north of Hebron.
The teenagers were kidnapped by Hamas members on the night of June 12 south of Jerusalem. Their bodies were found at about 5:30 p.m. Monday, bound and partially buried, in an open field in a hard-to-access area owned by the family of one of the suspects. The site is less than 20 kilometers (12 miles) from where the teens had been abducted.
Israel is on the hunt for two Hamas men it says were behind the kidnappings, Marwan Kawasme and Amer Aby Aysha.
Since the start of Operation Brother’s Keeper to find the teens, 18 days of searches had seen the arrests of over 400 Palestinians, mostly members of Hamas.
On Monday, Hamas operatives in Gaza launched a large volley of nearly 20 rockets which slammed into Israel, the first time in eighteen months the Islamist group has directly challenged the Jewish state, according to Israeli defense officials.
Over 200 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza so far this year. While Israel holds Hamas, which rules Gaza, responsible for all rocket attacks, officials have said that smaller groups, such as Islamic Jihad, are often behind the rockets.
Wary of reprisals from Israel, Hamas itself hadn’t claimed credit for firing rockets into Israel since Operation Pillar of Defense ended in November 2012, and has yet to take responsibility for this latest barrage.