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Israeli army bombs 4 sites in Gaza after rocket fire

Sept. 30, 2015 11:07 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 30, 2015 5:13 P.M.)
Palestinians look at a huge crater following an Israeli air strike on a Hamas police facility along the beach north of Gaza City on September 30, 2015 in response to rocket fire. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces launched air strikes on the Gaza Strip early Wednesday after a rocket was fired from the besieged coastal enclave overnight, the Israeli army said.

The army said in a statement that Israel's war planes "targeted four terror sites" in Gaza.

Witnesses and Palestinian security sources said four training camps for Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, were hit in the strikes. They were empty at the time, and no one was injured.

Three of the camps are located in Gaza City and the fourth in the north of the coastal enclave.

The rocket fired from Gaza late Tuesday was intercepted by Israel's "Iron Dome" defense system, and caused no injuries or damage, the army said.

It was claimed by a Salafist militant group, the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade, which said on Twitter that it had been carried out in response to the killing of 18-year-old Hadeel Hashlomon in Hebron last week.

It also cited Iman Kanjou, a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship who was arrested earlier this month at Ben Gurion Airport on suspicion of having attempted to join the Islamic State group in Syria.

The Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade is allegedly affiliated with IS.

Despite the brigade claiming responsibility, the Israeli army laid blame on Gaza's de facto leaders Hamas.

Israeli army spokesperson Peter Lerner said in the statement: "Hamas is responsible and will be held accountable for every attack emanating from the Gaza Strip."

Hamas has not claimed responsibility for any rocket attacks since last year's devastating war in Gaza, and the movement has attempted to clamp down on armed activity by smaller political groups in the territory -- among them the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade.

Since last summer's devastating war in Gaza, there have been growing signs of internal unrest between Hamas security forces and other militant groups, with a string of small-scale explosions earlier this year.

Many of the more recent attacks are believed to be the work of Salafist groups, who have made a name for themselves as unafraid to challenge Hamas, seeking to outbid them in the fight against Israel and the defense of Islam.

AFP contributed to this report.
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