Terrorists operating in the Gaza Strip fired at least a dozen mortar shells at an IDF engineering team inside Israeli territory near the border with Gaza Thursday afternoon, prompting the Israeli military to respond with airstrikes and tank fire.
Twelve mortar shells were fired at the engineering team which was carrying out work near the Gaza border fence. No injuries were reported, but the sudden attack prompted temporary shutdowns of the train system in Ashkelon and Sderot.
In response to the attack, Israel Air Force fighters struck targets inside the Gaza Strip. IDF tank units inside of Israel also opened fire on terrorist positions inside Gaza. A total of four targets were hit during the IDF operation.
Following the mortar attack, the IDF’s chief spokesperson, Brigadier General Ronen Manelis, claimed that the Islamic Jihad terrorist group was responsible for the mortar fire.
Manelis noted that the attack took place exactly one month after Israel destroyed a terror tunnel which extended from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
The demolition killed a dozen terrorists, most of them affiliated with the Islamic Jihad terror group. Israeli forces managed to recover the remains of five Islamic Jihad terrorists, and has refused to return them to Gaza.
In a press briefing Thursday afternoon, Manelis said the incident constituted a serious escalation.
“This was a serious attack by Islamic Jiahd, in which 10 to 12 mortars were fired at an army position north of the Gaza Strip, where work is being conducted on the fence.”
Manelis added that the IDF’s airstrikes and tank fire were only the “initial response” and that more actions would be taken against Islamic Jihad.
“The IDF’s initial response included strikes on four [terrorist] targets. Two of them belonged to Islamic Jihad, while two were [operated] by Hamas.”