Israeli aircraft struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip Sunday night, hours after a rocket fired from the territory exploded in Israel, the military told the Times of Israel. There were no immediate reports of Palestinian casualties.
The rocket set off air-raid sirens in several towns in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, an area next to the Gaza Strip. Residents told the Israeli news site they heard a loud explosion, but no injuries or damage were reported since the rocket landed in an open area. The retaliatory attack took place close to 1 a.m. Monday local time (6 p.m. Sunday EST), striking two Hamas targets, one in the northern part of the strip and the second in the center, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Israel regularly bombs Hamas targets in response to sporadic rocket fire, even though it is believed that the rockets are fired by fringe groups inside Gaza, rather than by Hamas.
The latest attack came as Hamas demanded the release of prisoners held in Israeli jails in exchange for information on the fate of two Israeli soldiers declared killed in action during the Gaza war in the summer of 2014. The bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul were never recovered and Israel has classified both soldiers as “killed in action.” Hamas released a letter that purports to be a desperate plea by Shaul to his parents begging for his release, in an apparent attempt to exploit the family’s hope that he is still alive into negotiating a prisoner exchange.
At the southern end of the Gaza Strip, outside Rafah, Israeli forces Sunday shot and wounded a Palestinian farmer, local residents and medics told the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency.
Residents said soldiers stationed on the Israeli side of the border fence near the Kerem Shalom post opened fire at Palestinian farmers working on their land, hitting a man in his 20s. Medics at Abu Yousif al-Najjar hospital said the victim had been treated for wounds in his left leg.
An Israeli army representative did not have immediate information on the incident.
Israeli forces regularly open fire on Palestinian farmers as well as fishermen whose work takes them close to a “security buffer zone” imposed by Israel on both land and seaside borders of the besieged enclave. Ninety-five percent of Gaza's arable land lies along the zone that is routinely restricted to Palestinians, making it impossible for many farmers to work their land without serious risk, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.