Palestinian terrorists fired a barrage of rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israeli communities overnight Thursday, prompting retaliatory strikes by the IDF against Hamas assets.
The exchange came after nine Palestinians were killed during heavy clashes between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israeli troops in Jenin in northern Samaria Thursday morning.
At midnight, two rockets were fired from Gaza towards the southern city of Ashkelon, with both being intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system.
A few hours later, three more rockets were fired towards Israeli communities located along the border with Gaza. One of the rockets was intercepted by Iron Dome, a second struck in an open area and the third fell short in the Strip, according to the IDF.
The military conducted retaliatory strikes on targets that included a military camp belonging to Hamas in northern Gaza that served as one of the terror organization’s most important focal points of activity.
The IDF said that it had caused “significant” damage to Hamas’s efforts to arm and strengthen itself, and reiterated Israel’s policy of holding the largest Gaza-based terrorist group responsible for any attacks emanating from the enclave it controls.
“Hamas bears responsibility for what happens in the Gaza Strip and will pay the price for security violations against the State of Israel,” said the IDF.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Friday that he had instructed the defense establishment to “prepare for action with a range of offensive measures aimed at high-quality targets, in case it is necessary to continue to act—until peace is restored to the citizens of Israel.”
The decision by Israeli security forces to conduct a rare large-scale counter-terrorism operation in Jenin during daylight hours on Thursday reflected the urgent need to prevent a major terror plot from moving ahead.
That plot, according to security sources, involved a Palestinian Islamic Jihad attack against Israelis to be carried out in the immediate future.
An Israel Defense Forces spokesman noted that most security operations in Judea and Samaria, commonly known as the West Bank, take place at night, to reduce what the military describes as “friction”—meaning reducing the chances of gun battles and clashes with gunmen and residents.
Yet this time, the IDF, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and Border Police’s Counter-Terrorism Unit moved into the crowded Jenin area in broad daylight, employing techniques to maneuver in an urban sprawl that is a hub for heavily armed terrorists.
The daytime timing helps explain the high number of Palestinian casualties, most of them PIJ gunmen.
Israeli forces remain engaged in a counter-terrorism offensive, primarily in Judea and Samaria, in response to a series of Palestinian attacks that killed 31 people in 2022.