Early on April 7, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) carried out a series of strikes against positions of the Palestinian Hamas Movement in the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon in response to recent rocket attacks which were launched from the two regions.
The escalation began on April 5, when Israeli Police stormed al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem city and arrested hundreds of Palestinians worshipers. In an initial response, several rockets were fired from Gaza at nearby towns in southern Israel. Later on April 6, a barrage of 34 rockets was launched from southern Lebanon at several towns in northern Israel.
The IDF said that Hamas, who rules the Gaza Strip and maintains presence in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, was behind the attacks.
The initial wave of Israeli retaliatory strikes on Gaza hit two tunnels, two weapon production sites, and an anti-aircraft missile launcher of Hamas.
The first tunnel was located near the city of Beit Hanoun, while the second was near the southern city of Khan Younis. The IDF said that the two tunnels “did not cross into Israeli territory and did not pose a threat to Israeli civilians.
Later, the IDF said a combat drone destroyed a heavy machine gun of Hamas in northern Gaza. According to the military, the gun was used to fire at Israeli warplanes. Hamas fighters also fired shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles. However, no hits were reported.
Palestinian fighters fired later in the morning more rockets at nearby Israeli towns, prompting a second wave of Israeli strikes.
The second wave targeted an underground weapons production site, three other sites for weapons manufacturing, a tunnel, and a series of observation posts, all belonging to Hamas, according to the IDF.
At around the same time, three Israeli strikes hit a Palestinian refugee camp in the outskirts of the southern Lebanese city of Tyre.
“The strikes were carried out in response to Hamas’ security violations in recent days,” the military said. “The IDF holds the Hamas terrorist organization responsible for all terror activities emanating from the Gaza Strip and it will face the consequences of the security violations against Israel,” the IDF said.
The Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon caused some material losses. Nevertheless, no casualties were reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the high-level security cabinet late on April 6 to discuss the security developments and weigh Israel’s response.
“Israel’s response, tonight and later, will exact a significant price from our enemies,” Netanyahu said in a brief statement after the meeting, which lasted around three hours.
Israel has reportedly informed Egypt, which has served as a mediator with Hamas, that any further possible escalation would depend on the response to the airstrikes by Palestinian factions. This indicates that Tel Aviv is planning to de-escalate.
While the confrontation appears to be over, the upcoming few days could witness more escalation if Hezbollah decided to respond to the Israeli strikes on Tyre. The group warned Tel Aviv against attacking any target on Lebanese territory on several occasions in the last few months.