Iron Dome intercepts rocket fired at Ashkelon from Gaza


Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired a single rocket into Israel early Monday, which was intercepted by the Iron Dome system, the army said. There were no reports of injuries.

Warning sirens blared in the southern city of Ashkelon and the nearby Hof Ashkelon region after 3 a.m. The Israel Defense Forces said it identified a single launch from Gaza.

Residents reported hearing loud explosions, apparently from the Iron Dome interception.

The launch came hours after the Israeli Air Force struck several Hamas positions in the eastern Gaza Strip in response to an explosive device that was flown into southern Israel earlier in the day, the army said.

On Sunday morning, a bomb was flown into Israel using a large cluster of balloons and a model drone. The explosive device landed in a carrot field in the Sdot Negev region of southern Israel shortly before noon.

A police bomb disposal robot carries away a drone-shaped device from the Gaza Strip, borne by dozens of helium balloons, which landed in a carrot field in southern Israel on January 6, 2019. (Israel Police)

In retaliation for the cross-border attack from Gaza, Israeli military helicopters attacked two observation posts east of Khan Younis that are controlled by the coastal enclave’s Hamas rulers, the army said.

“IDF attack helicopters struck two military positions belonging to the Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip in response to the balloon-borne explosive device, which was launched by a model drone,” the military said.

In addition to the posts near Khan Younis, Palestinian media reported that the IDF had attacked targets near Jabalia, in northern Gaza, and in the Zeitoun area of Gaza City, in the central Strip. The IDF refused to comment on those reports.

The military did not say who it believed flew the bomb into southern Israel but said it held Hamas responsible as the rulers of Gaza.

“The IDF will continue to act in defense of the citizens of Israel and against terrorism from the Strip,” the army said.

The name of a Gazan engineering college was printed on the side of the model drone.

Police said the explosive device attached to the model drone and the balloons exploded as a bomb disposal robot examined it. The drone lookalike was then carried away.

“No injuries were caused; the investigation continues,” police said.

It was not immediately clear how the device made it across the border without being shot down by the IDF.

The police reiterated calls to Israelis to contact law enforcement if they see suspicious objects.

The discovery came after a week-long lull in airborne arson attempts from Gaza.

Gaza protesters have launched hundreds of incendiary kites and balloons into Israel over the past nine months, sparking fires that have destroyed forests, burned crops, and killed livestock. Thousands of acres of land have been burned, causing millions of shekels in damages, according to Israeli officials. Some balloons have also carried improvised explosive devices.

Originally posted at Times of Israel.

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