Israel strikes Gaza target in response to rocket fire
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military attacked what it said was a Hamas military site in the Gaza Strip early Saturday in response to a pair of rocket attacks overnight. The exchange that took place hours after U.S. President Joe Biden concluded a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The army said its fighter jets struck an underground complex containing raw materials used in the production of rockets.
The two rocket attacks, coming several hours apart, set off air raid sirens in parts of southern Israel but caused no injuries or damage. The army said one of the rockets was intercepted, while the others landed in open areas.
No Palestinian group claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. But Israel blames Hamas, the militant group that has ruled Gaza for 15 years, for any violence emanating from the Palestinian enclave.
In addition to the military sites, shock waves from Israeli airstrikes ripped up window frames and shattered glasses at several homes and a nearby gas station.
Commenting on the air raids, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem vowed to “continue our legitimate struggle” and stand up to the U.S. support of Israel.
Despite heightened tensions in recent months, Biden’s three-day trip to Israel and the occupied West Bank passed smoothly. In the West Bank, Biden met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, expressing support for Palestinian independence but also saying that conditions are not ripe for re-launching peace talks.
Hamas dismissed Biden’s expressions of sympathy for the Palestinians, calling the United States “a partner in the aggression on our people.” It also criticized Abbas for meeting with Biden and reiterating his support for a peace process with Israel.
Hamas doesn’t recognize Israel. Since taking over Gaza by force in 2007, the militant group and Israel fought four deadly wars and numerous rounds of cross-border violence.
Biden continued from Israel to Saudi Arabia, where he is trying to bolster a regional alliance against Iran. Israel considers Iran to be its greatest enemy, in part because of its support for militant groups like Hamas.