On June 18, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) carried out a series of strikes on positions of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Hamas Movement, in the Gaza Strip.
The strikes were a response to a rocket attack targeted the town of Ashkelon. Palestinian fighters launched a single rocket at the Israeli town, which is located some ten kilometers to the north of Gaza, in the early morning hours. The IDF said that the rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome system.
According to the Shehab News Agency, the strikes hit the Saladin base in central Gaza and three observation towers of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades in the northern part of the enclave. The strikes didn’t result in any casualties.
The rocket attack was likely carried out by the al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, in response to the June 17 Israeli security operation in the West Bank town of Jenin. During the operation, three members of the al-Quds Brigades’s Jenin Division were killed by a reconnaissance unit from the IDF’s elite 1st “Golani” Brigade.
The IDF targeted the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades as a part of a long standing Israeli policy that holds Hamas, the de-facto ruler of Gaza, responsible for activities emanating from the enclave.
Tensions has been rising between Israel and Palestinian factions as a result of a wave of attacks in the West Ban and inside Israel that have left 19 people dead since March 22. At least 30 Palestinians were killed in Israeli security and military operations during the same period.
Israel unwillingness to ease security measures in Jerusalem and the West Bank will likely lead to more escalation in the Gaza Strip.
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