- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 18, 2019

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket toward southern Israel early Thursday and Israeli aircraft responded with airstrikes in the Hamas-ruled territory.

The Israeli military said air defenses intercepted the rocket that was fired toward Sderot town.

Two hours later, successive airstrikes targeted militant sites in Gaza City. The Israeli military issued a statement saying that the target was “a Hamas weapons manufacturing site.”

The fierce bombings illuminated the sky in northwest Gaza City and the sound jolted residents out of sleep. There were no reports of injuries.

No Palestinian group claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. Israel usually blames the militant Hamas group for all attacks emanating from Gaza.



With help from Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations, Hamas and Israel are seeking to strengthen “understandings” meant to boost calm and prevent further cross-border violence.

Through the truce, Hamas hopes to mitigate the economic and health effects of a 12-year-old Israeli-Egyptian blockade on Gaza.

On Wednesday, a Qatari envoy said Doha will continue its aid projects in Gaza through 2020, which is crucial to support calm.

The airstrikes Thursday hit near the hotel in which the envoy, Mohammed Al-Emadi, was staying.

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