JERUSALEM — Following an overnight volley of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, Israeli military aircraft struck a number of Palestinian targets in Gaza. No injuries were immediately reportedly in either attacks.
The flare-up comes at a time of relative calm, largely maintained since the end of November's Israeli 8-day military campaign against Gaza that it called "Operation Pillar of Defense."
At least six rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel Sunday night. Two were intercepted by the rocket-defense system called Iron Dome, and the others exploded in open areas. Schools remained open in Israel's southern towns.
The attack was an "intolerable act of aggression against Israel and its civilians," said Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner in a statement Monday morning. In response to the rockets, Israel targeted what the army described as "terrorist infrastructure," including weapons storage facilities and a rocket launch site.
Hard-line lawmaker Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of the parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense committee and Israel's former foreign minister, told Israeli media Monday morning that Israel might ultimately have to consider "retaking the entire strip and cleaning it up thoroughly."
Israel already "paid the price" for several military operations in Gaza but has so far failed to change Hamas' procurement and manufacturing of rockets, Lieberman said, adding that if Israel did not take action now, Hamas could be capable of consistently striking Tel Aviv in two years.
No organization immediately claimed responsibility for the rocket attack but sources in Gaza suggest the latest round of violence may be related to tensions between Palestinian factions inside the Gaza Strip over the death of an Islamic Jihad activist over the weekend.
Raed Qassim Jundeyieh was fatally shot on Saturday in an altercation that took place when Hamas police tried to arrest him. Islamic Jihad condemned the death of its activist while Hamas claimed his death was caused by an accidental discharge during the arrest.
In protest, Islamic Jihad announced Sunday it was temporarily suspending ties with Hamas, saying Hamas had done Israel "a favor" by killing Jundeyieh, who was wanted by Israel for heading a rocket-launching unit for the faction.
"Hamas is held accountable" for violence originating from the Gaza Strip, according to the statement from Israel's army. The Kerem Shalom cargo crossing to Gaza has been ordered closed until further notice.
Rushdi Abualouf in Gaza contributed to this report.