Jerusalem, May 7 – Israel launched air raids against smuggling tunnels in southern Gaza on Wednesday, hours after it said Palestinian militants fired mortar rounds at the Jewish state.
The air force targeted three smuggling tunnels in the Rafah border area with Egypt “in response to the continuous firing of rockets and mortar shells at Israeli southern communities from the Gaza Strip,” the military said.
Palestinian medical sources said four people were slightly wounded.
“Earlier this morning, five mortar shells hit a field in the Shaar Hanegev municipal council in the western Negev region of Israel. No casualties or damage were reported,” the military said in a statement.
Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamist Hamas movement which rules Gaza, said it fired mortar shells at Israeli troops carrying out an incursion in the central Gaza Strip.
The Israeli military says more than 200 rockets and mortar shells have been fired at southern Israel from Gaza since it carried out a devastating December-January offensive on the impoverished territory.
The armed forces have responded with a series of air strikes, mostly on tunnels which Israel says Hamas uses to smuggle in weapons from Egypt.
Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, in an interview published in the New York Times on Tuesday, said his Islamist movement was holding its rocket fire for the time being.
“Not firing the rockets currently is part of an evaluation of the movement which serves the Palestinian interest,” he said.