An Israeli army spokesperson said in a statement that "a projectile was fired from the Gaza Strip and hit an open area in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council," which caused no injuries or damages. "In response," the statement said, the Israeli army targeted two Hamas positions in the northern Gaza Strip with tank fire and airstrikes.
Palestinian sources in Gaza said that three rockets were fired from the besieged coastal enclave towards Israeli towns surrounding the Gaza Strip, two of which landed inside Gaza and one which landed in the Ashkelon coast.
Israeli forces have launched airstrikes
in Gaza in a number of instances since the beginning of the year, injuring
at least seven Palestinians, with the Israeli army saying the attacks came in retaliation to rockets fired into Israel that did cause any casualties.
Israeli officials have accused Hamas, Gaza's de facto leaders, of "preparing" for another war with Israel and have threatened retaliatory measures against the Gaza Strip as a whole, while Israeli authorities hold Hamas responsible for all attacks against Israeli targets coming from the Gaza Strip.
However, Hamas has not claimed responsibility for any rocket attacks since a ceasefire was declared after Israel’s devastating war in Gaza in 2014, and the movement has attempted to clamp down on armed activity by smaller political groups that do launch rockets from the territory.
, senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said that the Hamas movement was “not seeking new military confrontations with the Israeli occupation,” but that "if the Israeli occupation wages war against us, our lions will respond in the fields."
"We are not war fanatics, but we are a bereaved and oppressed people who resist occupation," al-Hayya said.
The al-Mezan Center for Human Rights expressed concern in February
that Israel could be leading up to a wide-scale military offensive in the besieged Gaza Strip.
The rights group called on the international community to “act promptly against Israel’s military escalation, to fulfill their obligations to protect civilians, and ensure respect for the rules of international law,” stressing that “acting before a full-scale military bombardment is launched is crucial to ensuring the protection of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.”