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Israeli tanks fire on Gaza in response to rocket

JERUSALEM (AFP) – 

Israeli tanks shelled the Gaza Strip after a rocket from the Palestinian enclave hit an open field on Thursday, the second such exchange of fire in two days, officials said.

The rocket slammed into the Eshkol area of Israel bordering the Gaza Strip, which is run by Islamist movement Hamas, the Israeli military said in a statement.

The Israelis retaliated with tank fire targeting farmland east of the Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, said a Hamas security source.

Israel usually retaliates to rocket fire from the Gaza with strikes, but recent responses have been stronger than in the past.

That has led some analysts to question whether the change is in part the result of a new policy by hardline Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who took office in May.

The minister, speaking on public television, said Israel was not seeking an escalation.

“But when it comes to the security of Israelis, there will be no concession … Hamas has firm control over the Gaza Strip. When it wants to make or prevent other groups from firing, it knows how to do it,” said Lieberman.

Following the latest exchange, Israel’s military issued a brief statement only saying it “targeted the Hamas terror infrastructure inside the Gaza Strip using tanks”.

No casualties were reported on either side, and there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rocket attack.

On Wednesday, Israeli forces retaliated with air strikes and tank shelling of Hamas posts in Gaza after a rocket crashed onto a road in the Israeli city of Sderot.

That rocket was claimed by the small Salafist movement Ahfad al-Sahaba, followers of an ultra-conservative brand of Sunni Islam who oppose Hamas and sympathise with Islamic State group jihadists.

Israel however holds Hamas responsible for all such rocket fire.

No casualties were reported from the rocket or the Israeli strikes on Wednesday.

Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008 and there are frequent flare-ups along the border.

© 2016 AFP

Article source: http://www.france24.com/en/20161006-israeli-tanks-fire-gaza-response-rocket