Rocket and airstrike background to Israel, Gulf States pact


Militants in Gaza launched rockets at Israel and Israeli aircraft hit targets in the Palestinian enclave in an explosive backdrop to the signing of pacts for formal ties between Israel and two Gulf Arab countries.

The Israeli military launched 10 air strikes on Hamas Islamist-run Gaza on Wednesday and 15 rockets were fired from the territory at Israeli communities, where sirens sounded before dawn.

On Tuesday, a rocket from Gaza struck coastal Israeli city Ashdod, wounding two people, at the same time as Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed agreements at the White House to establish diplomatic relations.

“I’m not surprised Palestinian terrorists fired at Israel during this historic ceremony,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said before returning to Israel.

“They want to turn back the peace. In that, they will not succeed,” he told reporters. “We will strike those who raise a hand to harm us and we will reach out to those who extend the hand of peace to us.”

Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, view the US-brokered deals as a betrayal of their cause.

No casualties were reported on either side of the Israel-Gaza frontier. The military said eight rockets were intercepted by its Iron Dome anti-missile system.

In a statement, the military said targets in Gaza included a weapons and explosives manufacturing factory and a Hamas compound used for training and rocket experiments.

Without naming factions, the Islamic Jihad group in Gaza said in response to air strikes, the “resistance” fired rocket salvoes at Israel.