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Gaza rocket into Israel breaks 2-month lull, Israel responds

Supporters of Mohammed el-Halabi hold a Palestinian flag and placards as protesters wave Israeli flags, outside the district court in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. The court found the Gaza aid worker guilty of several terrorism charges. El-Halabi, who was the Gaza director for the Christian charity World Vision from 2014 until his arrest in 2016, was accused of diverting tens of millions of dollars to the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules the territory. Both el-Halabi and World Vision have denied any wrongdoing, and an independent audit in 2017 also found no evidence of support for Hamas. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Supporters of Mohammed el-Halabi hold a Palestinian flag and placards as protesters wave Israeli flags, outside the district court in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. The court found the Gaza aid worker guilty of several terrorism charges. El-Halabi, who was the Gaza director for the Christian charity World Vision from 2014 until his arrest in 2016, was accused of diverting tens of millions of dollars to the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules the territory. Both el-Halabi and World Vision have denied any wrongdoing, and an independent audit in 2017 also found no evidence of support for Hamas. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

JERUSALEM — Palestinian militants fired a rocket into southern Israel early Saturday, shattering a two-month lull in violence at the Gaza-Israel border in contrast to soaring tensions in the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli military said aerial defense systems intercepted the projectile, which activated warning sirens in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon. There were no reports of casualties.

Hours later, Israeli aircraft carried out a series of airstrikes on four military sites for Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza. Videos on social media showed plumes of smoke and fire rising from the targeted camps in central and northern Gaza Strip and eastern Gaza City.

No Palestinian group claimed responsibility for the rocket fire but the Israeli military blamed Hamas.

An Israeli military raid in the West Bank early Friday, in which three Palestinian militants were killed and eight wounded, could have triggered the rocket attack from Gaza.

Also on Friday, an Israeli observation balloon crashed and fell in northern Gaza Strip. The Israeli military said it was investigating the incident but clarified the balloon was not downed by Palestinian militants.

The Israeli military has been carrying out near-daily raids in the occupied West Bank since a string of attacks earlier this year killed 19 people in Israel. Many of the arrest raids have been launched in and around Jenin, the hometown of several of the attackers.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.