Gaza – Asharq Al-Awsat: The Hamas movement’s test-firing of five missiles near the Gaza coastline on Saturday caused major concerns across Israel.
According to Israeli military sources, Hamas’ military wing, the Ezzeddine al-Qassam Brigades, are conducting almost daily missile tests developed by its manufacturing unit.
Most of the drills are believed to be carried out in anticipation of any new military confrontation with the Israeli forces.
Israeli military sources also pointed out that Hamas launched these missiles from several outposts in the Gaza Strip, aiming to raise missile efficiency and military capabilities and to improve their range.
The tests have raised fear among Jewish settlers living near the Gaza Strip border.
For its part, Tel Aviv is concerned that the launching of rockets is a prelude to targeting gas platforms operating off the coast of the Gaza Strip.
Hamas’ maritime forces had carried out in 2014 several covert operations—such as the infiltrating a military outpost off the coast of Ashkelon which was an unexpected surprise for Israeli security forces at the time.
Meanwhile, Israeli aircraft hit a compound in the southern Gaza Strip in retaliation to a rocket launched from the coastal region.
The Israeli army said Palestinians there fired a rocket into the Jewish state provoking the counterattack.
“In response to the projectile fired at southern Israel… fighter jets struck a Hamas compound composed of two military structures,” the army statement said.
A Palestinian security source said the raid hit a facility of Hamas’s military wing west of Rafah in southern Gaza, “without causing injuries.”
Israeli army radio said that there were no casualties from Friday night’s rocket, which it said fell on open ground in southern Israel, AFP reported.
It was the second exchange in 24 hours, after the air force hit a Hamas position in Gaza early Friday in response to a rocket being fired from the Palestinian enclave the night before.
Such rockets are usually fired not by Hamas, but by fringe radical groups.
Israel holds Hamas, with which it has fought three wars since 2008, responsible for any fire coming from Gaza.