IAF strikes Gaza launch pads after rockets fired at Israel on Passover

Tens of thousands in Ashkelon, Sderot and Zikim rush for shelter.

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: Gaza, Hamas
Israel Defense Forces activity in the Gaza Strip, April 23, 2024. Credit: IDF.
Israel Defense Forces activity in the Gaza Strip, April 23, 2024. Credit: IDF.

Israeli Air Force fighter jets destroyed two Hamas rocket launchers embedded in a humanitarian zone in southern Gaza, the army said Wednesday, as the war started by the terrorist group entered its 200th day.

The Israel Defense Forces said the launch pads were loaded with rockets and were struck before they could be used to attack the Jewish state.

The strike in the heart of a humanitarian zone was carried out following efforts to prevent harm to civilians, the military added.

On Tuesday morning, as Israelis celebrated the Passover holiday, air-raid siren sounded in the southern border communities of Ashkelon, Sderot and Zikim, sending close to 190,000 people running for shelter.

Four rockets were intercepted. In Sderot, a storage shed burned down after it was hit by shrapnel. There were no people in the structure, which had been under renovation since it was hit by two Hamas rockets on Oct. 7, and no injuries were reported.

Hours later, two more rockets were fired towards Kibbutz Zikim. One was intercepted while another fell short inside the Strip. Iran-backed Islamic Jihad claimed the attacks, which originated from northern Gaza.

The IDF said it responded with artillery fire towards the launch sites. In addition, IAF jets struck rocket launchers and other terrorist infrastructure in the Beit Lahia area in the northern Gaza Strip.

During the first day of Passover, soldiers of the IDF’s Netzach Yehuda Battalion carried out intensive counterterror raids in Beit Hanoun in the northeast Strip that included close-quarters combat, the army said.

During one encounter with terrorists on Monday, Sgt. First Class (res.) Salm Alkreshat, 43, from the Bedouin community of Abu Rabia, a tracker in the Gaza Division’s Northern Brigade, was killed.

Meanwhile, the IDF’s Nahal Infantry Brigade continued targeted ground operations in the central Gaza corridor, neutralizing terrorist squads and destroying infrastructure.

The IDF is preparing to begin its ground operations in the southernmost Hamas stronghold of Rafah “very soon,” beginning with the evacuation of over a million Palestinian civilians, Israel’s Kan News public broadcaster reported on Tuesday evening, citing US officials.

Jerusalem has repeatedly emphasized that telling Israel to refrain from operating in Rafah is equivalent to demanding that it lose the war. According to Israel, the final four Hamas battalions, composed of some 3,000 terrorists, are holed up in the city along the Egyptian border.

Many of the 133 hostages still in the hands of Hamas after 200 days are believed to be held in Rafah. Two captives were rescued from the city by special forces in a military operation in February.

With reporting by JNS.