Israeli warplanes bombed the Gaza Strip as rockets fell inside Israel Thursday, violatining a tacit five-day calm around the Hamas-run coastal strip. The violence erupted within hours after an Israeli operation in the West Bank town of Bethlehem killed four Palestinians, including two senior activists
Israeli warplanes hit targets in the northern Gaza Strip early Thursday after gunners from the Islamic Jihad group fired a dozen rockets into the Jewish state, the army said, according to AFP. "The Israeli air force raid targeted a rocket launcher that was ready to fire in the Beit Hanun area in the northern Gaza Strip," an Israeli army spokesman conveyed.
"Twelve rockets were fired from Gaza towards southern Israel overnight," he added. "Two of the rockets exploded at Sderot, damaging a building, but without injuring anybody."
In the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Palestinian security officials said the four killed by the Israeli unit included Mohammed Shahada, 48, a top leader in the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad group, and Ahmed al-Balbul, 48, a senior official in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Islamic Jihad vowed to retaliate after the Bethlehem raid.
"Islamic Jihad and the other resistance groups have the right to respond in any place to this crime of assassination and all options are open," Dawud Shihab, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad in Gaza, told AFP. "What the enemy has done undermines any talk of a ceasefire," he said.
Hamas echoed the sentiment, with spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri in Gaza calling the Israeli operation "a crime and a dangerous escalation." "There is no meaning to any ceasefire in the midst of these crimes," he told AFP. "Hamas confirms that any ceasefire must be comprehensive, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip... This crime demands a response from the resistance."