Israel strikes militant targets in response to Gaza fire

The Israeli military says it has struck a number of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip

JERUSALEM -- The Israeli air force struck a number of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip late Thursday in response to the launch of a projectile into southern Israel.

The military said it attacked an underground installation, a naval target and a military compound. There were no reports of casualties.

The airstrikes came shortly after Palestinian militants fired a projectile toward Israel, setting off air raid sirens in southern border communities.

The army gave no details on where the projectile landed. But Channel 12 TV said militants had fired a mortar shell that landed in an open area.

It was the second bout of fighting in less than 24 hours. Early Thursday, the Israeli air force struck several militant targets in Gaza in response to a rocket attack. The rocket was intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome air defense system.

No Palestinian group claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. Israel usually blames Gaza's ruling 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. The bitter enemies have fought three wars and numerous smaller spats of violence since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007.

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 his country 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.