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Fatah armed wing claims failed rocket fire toward Israel, promises 'escalation'

sraeli soldiers stand guard along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip near the southern Israeli Kibbutz of Nahal Oz
AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana
Palestinian media reported that the IDF responded with artillery strikes on Gaza targets

A faction of the Palestinian Fatah party's armed wing in the Gaza Strip, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, said on Friday that it was behind failed overnight rocket fire toward Israel, in the first such claim since the 2014 Gaza war.

The group issued an official statement claiming it had fired two rockets towards the Eshkol Regional Council in southern Israel at 11:15 p.m. local time, promising that "the coming days will bring an escalation against the Israeli occupation."

Palestinian media reported overnight Friday that at least one projectile was fired from the southern Gaza Strip just before midnight, falling short of its intended target and landing in an open area on the Gaza-side of the border fence.

The official Palestinian media outlet Wafa said that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) responded to the attempted rocket attack with artillery strikes on targets east of Khan Younis and Deir al-Balah just after midnight on Friday.

No casualties were reported following the strikes, Wafa said. The IDF did not immediately confirm the reported strikes.

An IDF spokesperson said no rocket alert siren was triggered as the rocket failed to enter Israeli territory and that the incident was under review, Israel's Walla news website reported.

The incident is the latest after several weeks of tension along the Israel-Gaza border.

The IDF carried out air and artillery strikes against two Hamas outposts in the coastal enclave last week, after cross-border gunfire targeted Israeli troops carrying out routine activities on the border.

That incident came one day after a rocket fired from Gaza landed in an open area in Hof Ashkelon Regional Council in Israel's south.

Just a few days earlier, the IDF carried out several air strikes on a Hamas targets across the Gaza Strip in response to another projectile fired into its territory which landed without incident in an open area.

Recent rocket fire is thought to have been carried out by rogue jihadists in the Strip, but Israel holds the enclave's ruling Hamas group responsible for all aggression emanating from its territory.

Hamas has been cracking down on rogue jihadists within its territory over the past month, rounding up some 550 suspected jihadists and supporters of the Islamic State terrorist organization over the past several weeks, some of whom, they claim, are responsible for recent rocket fire into Israel.

Gaza-based Hamas and West Bank-based Fatah have been at loggerheads since 2007, when Hamas brutally ousted Fatah from the coastal enclave. Numerous attempts have been made by Arab and international parties to reconcile the division, but without success.

See also:

- Hamas fires rocket into Mediterranean as IDF operates inside Gaza border: report

- Israeli army diffuses explosive devices planted near Gaza border fence

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