Israeli jets & helicopters strike Gaza Strip in reprisal for rocket attack

Explosions lit up the night sky over Gaza as Israeli fighter jets and attack helicopters bombed several locations inside the Palestinian enclave. Tel Aviv said the strike was a reprisal for a rocket fired into Israel earlier.

Reports of the bombing came shortly after 1am local time on Friday, with eyewitnesses sharing videos purportedly showing explosions and claiming F-16 fighters were attacking.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed the bombing and said it was in “response to the rocket fired from Gaza at Israel earlier tonight.”

Fighter jets and helicopters struck “a Hamas weapons manufacturing site, a weapon smuggling tunnel and a military post,” the IDF said on Twitter.

The rocket that the IDF was referencing came from the direction of Gaza on Thursday evening – as Israel was celebrating its independence day – and struck uninhabited territory near the town of Sderot in southern Israel. 

While Tel Aviv blamed the attack on Palestinian Islamic Jihad, one of the several militant groups operating out of the enclave, the reprisal was aimed at Hamas in line with the Israeli policy of holding that group responsible for anything that happens in Gaza.

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Hamas – which stands for “Islamic Resistance Movement” – is a Palestinian faction headquartered in Gaza. It has de facto been the government of the enclave since Israel withdrew its troops from the 365-square-kilometer (141-square-mile) strip in 2005. 

After dozens of missiles were fired from the strip into Israel in February, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu threatened Gaza with all-out war.

Gaza was occupied by Egypt during the war that followed Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948. It was captured by the Israelis in the 1967 war against Egypt, Syria and Jordan – along with the Jordanian-held West Bank and the Golan Heights region of Syria. The Sinai peninsula, also occupied during the so-called Six-Day War, was returned to Egypt in 1980.

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