3 rocket barrages from Gaza hit southern Israel: army

Source: Xinhua| 2020-02-24 19:57:53|Editor: huaxia

JERUSALEM, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- A total of three rocket barrages were fired on Monday midday from the Gaza Strip towards southern Israel, with one of them hitting an empty kindergarten, Israel's army said.

A military spokesperson said in a statement that the first barrage included six rockets, five of them were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome anti-rocket system.

The rockets triggered sirens in the city of Sderot and other communities in the vicinity of the coastal Palestinian enclave.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, but local media reported that one of the rockets hit a kindergarten in Sderot which was empty because of Israeli Home Front Command's instructions to temporarily close all schools and kindergartens in the wake of the abrupt escalation.

Shrapnel from an Iron Dome's interceptor missile fell in the community of Nir Am, causing damage to cars.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel will launch a war against Islamic Hamas movement.

In an interview with Army Radio, Netanyahu said that he was not eager to launch a war, "but Hamas should know it could happen at any minute."

Overnight, Israeli fighter jets struck sites in Syria and the Gaza Strip. The military said that the airstrikes targeted military sites belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in response to at least 21 rockets fired by the group from Gaza towards southern Israel on Sunday.

At least six people were killed in the strikes, including two Islamic Jihad operatives, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

No injuries were reported in Israel.

The Islamic Jihad said in a statement that the rockets were a retaliation for the killing of an operative with the group near the fence separating between the besieged Palestinian enclave and Israel.

Palestinians were outraged by video footage showing an Israeli bulldozer lifting and dragging the lifeless body of the operative.

Despite Egyptian and UN efforts to broker a truce between Israel and Hamas, low-level fighting has continued, including rockets and mortars from Gaza at southern Israel and Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.

The current escalation comes during a sensitive time in Israel, a week before the country's national elections.

Israel captured the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war.

Gaza has been under Israeli and Egyptian blockade since 2007.