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Israeli air force hits target in Gaza Strip

June 24, 2015 9:45 A.M. (Updated: June 24, 2015 2:17 P.M.)
Israeli forces look from an armored personal carriers during a training exercise near the Israel-Gaza Border, on June 7, 2015. (AFP/Menahem Kahana, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli air force attacked a target in the northern Gaza Strip in the early hours of Wednesday after a missile fired from the Gaza Strip hit an open area near the town of Ashkelon in the western Negev. 

The Israeli strike landed in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, witnesses told Ma'an, with the Israeli army stating that the strike had targeted "the launcher from which the rocket was fired at Israel earlier."

The strike came hours after the rocket fired from the Gaza Strip fell on open ground in the vicinity of Yad Mordechai, a kibbutz near the Israel-Gaza border. 

No injuries were reported in either the rocket launch or the Israeli strike.

Wednesday's exchange was the fifth in just under a month, with the most recent rocket fired from Gaza landing in Israel on June 6 answered within hours by an Israeli air strike into the coastal strip.

A rocket was fired on June 11 but it fell short and landed on the Palestinian side of the Gaza border.

No damage or casualties have been caused by the recent rockets fired from Gaza, and Israeli airstrikes have left structural damage only.

The exchanges come as Israel and Hamas have allegedly been holding indirect talks for cementing a long-term truce in the Gaza Strip, Hamas sources said last week.

While an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire came into effect on August 26, ending a nearly 50-day war between the two sides, pledges to resume follow-up talks regarding longer term relations were delayed several times and never formally resumed.

The conflict left over 2,200 Palestinians dead, the majority civilians, and 73 on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers.

It also caused heavy damage to Gaza's infrastructure and damaged more than 160,000 homes.

Much of the recent sporadic rocket fire towards Israel from Gaza has been claimed by a small group by the name of Sheikh Omar Hadid-Bayt al-Maqdis, allegedly aiming to challenge Hamas' rule in the strip.

Hamas had denied involvement in the attacks and has attempted to vamp down on armed activity by smaller political groups reportedly growing more active.

"...Hamas is finding it difficult to control Islamic Jihad and other elements in order to do this," an Israeli source told AFP last week, referring to Hamas' ability to maintain quiet in the coastal enclave.

As occasional rocket fire continued this month, Israeli forces have maintained regular incursions into the Gaza Strip as Palestinians along both the land and seaside borders are facing near daily fire from forces, with three Palestinian fishermen shot dead since September and dozens more injured in the same time period.

AFP contributed to this report.

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