Israel’s air force struck Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip shortly on Monday, hours after overnight airstrikes against the Palestinian group in Syria left six militants dead.
The latest airstrikes came after a fresh barrage of 14 rockets fired from Gaza at southern Israel, of which the country’s Iron Dome aerial defence system intercepted 12, a military statement said.
Sirens sounded in the town of Sderot, adjacent to the north-east of the Gaza Strip, and elsewhere in southern Israel amid the fresh barrage.
Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for a barrage of rockets and mortar shells launched at Israel on Sunday, also from the Strip. Those came hours after Israeli soldiers shot dead a member of the group’s armed wing, who was planting an explosive device at the heavily secured border fence with Israel.
Mobile phone footage filmed by a Palestinian protester showed an Israeli army bulldozer scooping up the dead militant’s body, for use as a bargaining chip to trade against the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza War and still held in the coastal enclave.
Islamic Jihad said the rockets were revenge for Israel’s treatment of the “martyr’s” body.
The fundamentalist movement is not part of an informal truce “understanding” brokered by Egypt between Israel and the rival Islamist Hamas movement ruling the Gaza Strip.
The latest escalation comes a week before an unprecedented third parliamentary election within a year in Israel. Following the barrages, school lessons were called off and roads closed in southern Israel.
The overnight Israeli airstrikes targeting the Islamic Jihad and Iranian-backed militia in Syria, south of Damascus, killed two Palestinian members of the Islamic Jihad and four from the Iranian-backed militias, among them one Syrian national, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Islamic Jihad identified the dead as Salim Salim, 24, and Ziad Mansour, 23.
The Britain-based watchdog said the shelling hit a post manned by the Islamic Jihad and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, located a few kilometres from the Damascus International Airport.
Syria’s state-run SANA news agency said Syrian air defence responded on Sunday night to the missiles in the airspace over the capital.
The Israeli army said an Islamic Jihad compound was struck in the Adeliye region outside Damascus. It was used as a “hub” by the Palestinian movement, for research and development of weapons, for manufacturing a rocket fuel chemical called ammonium perchlorate and for training militants, a statement said. (dpa)