JERUSALEM: In response to rocket attacks that took place in the Southern city of Beersheba and greater Tel Aviv area on Wednesday, the Israel defence forces have bombed several targets in Gaza.
IDF spokesperson Lt.Col. Jonathan Conricus said "There are only two organizations in Gaza that have this caliber of rocket: Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It's not hard to narrow down who's behind it", reports The Times of Israel. However, in a joint statement, Hamas and PIJ publicly condemned the rocket attack, saying it was "irresponsible" and threatened to derail an Egypt-led negotiation effort. The IDF said it bombed some 20 targets throughout the Gaza Strip, including an attack tunnel being dug toward Israel from outside the city of Khan Younis.
The entrance to a naval tunnel, which would be used by Hamas's naval commando unit, was also destroyed in the retaliatory airstrikes.
Israeli air force jets bombed a number of weapons factory, military bases and other facilities connected to Hamas's tunnel-building efforts.
Palestinian media reported that the retaliatory strikes hit throughout the Gaza Strip in southern Gaza in Rafah and Khan Younis, around the central Gaza City and in the north of the enclave near Beit Lahiya.
Three people were moderately wounded in the strikes near Rafah, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
An Israeli aircraft also targeted a group of Palestinian terrorists as they attempted to launch a projectile at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip, the spokesman said Hamas and PIJ said they "affirm our preparedness to confront the occupation's assaults.
Our guns will continue to be a protective shield for our people and our weapons are drawn at the face of our enemy.
" IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said, "Iron Dome air defence batteries were not activated during the rocket attack".
Rocket attacks on Beersheba home to more than 200,000 people are rare and considered a major escalation. It was only the second rocket fired at Beersheba since the 2014 Gaza war.
The previous rocket, which struck a field north of Beersheba on August 9, came as Palestinians fired dozens of projectiles at Israeli communities along the Gaza border.
Following the rocket attack, schools were closed in Beersheba and in the communities immediately surrounding the Gaza Strip, the army said.
Residents of the Gaza periphery were also barred from gathering in groups larger than 300 people outdoors and 500 people indoors.