The Israeli air force said early Friday it had carried out air strikes against “military sites” in the Gaza Strip after rockets were fired from the Palestinian enclave into Israeli territory.
On Thursday evening, the Israeli army and local sources had reported the first rocket fire since August from the Gaza Strip into Israel with some projectiles falling into the enclave and another intercepted by the Israeli missile shield.
Israeli forces also killed at least four Palestinians in separate incidents on Thursday, including one who had stabbed a police officer in east Jerusalem and three others in Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank.
The violence flared as Israel completed the counting of votes in national elections held this week, with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right allies capturing a comfortable majority of seats in Israel’s parliament.
In the West Bank, Israeli troops operating in the Jenin refugee camp, a militant stronghold, killed at least two Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad said one of those killed was a local commander. Residents said he was killed while at the butcher, where he was buying meat ahead of his wedding this weekend.
The army said Farouk Salameh was wanted in several shooting attacks on Israeli security forces, including the killing of a police officer last May. It said that a firefight ensued, Salameh fled and then drew a gun at soldiers who shot and killed him.
Late Thursday, Gaza militants fired a rocket into southern Israel, setting off air-raid sirens in the area. The army said the rocket was intercepted, and that three other launch attempts failed and exploded inside Gaza. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but in the past, Islamic Jihad has fired rockets in response to the killings of its members.
In response, the Israeli military said it targeted an underground site used by Gaza’s Hamas rulers as a rocket-making facility. The airstrikes “will significantly impede” Hamas’ rocket capabilities, it said. It also blamed the militant group for attacks emanating from Gaza. There were no reports of casualties.
Earlier Thursday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said a Palestinian man was killed by Israeli fire in the occupied West Bank. Israeli police said it happened during a raid in the territory and alleged the man threw a firebomb at the forces.
In a separate incident Thursday, a Palestinian stabbed a police officer in Jerusalem’s Old City, police said, and officers opened fire on the attacker, killing him. The officer was lightly wounded.
The violence erupted as a political shift is underway in Israel. Netanyahu is set to return to power in a coalition government made up of far-right allies, including the extremist lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir, who in response to the incidents said Israel would soon take a tougher approach to attackers.
“The time has come to restore security to the streets,” he tweeted. “The time has come for a terrorist who goes out to carry out an attack to be taken out!”
The violence was the latest in a wave of Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the West Bank and east Jerusalem that has killed more than 130 Palestinians this year, making 2022 the deadliest since the U.N. started tracking fatalities in 2005.