NEW: Al-Qaeda linked group claims responsibility for some rocket launches
Israel will not tolerate rockets from Gaza, defense minister says
Two explosions outside an Israeli city sent police looking for rockets
Israel blames an incident in the Golan Heights on the Syrian government
The patter of rockets from Gaza into Israel continued Wednesday, according to Israeli authorities.
And an al-Qaeda linked group claimed responsibility for launches that occurred a day earlier.
The steady drip of projectiles has irked the Jewish state, which Tuesday conducted its first airstrikes into the Palestinian territory since the cease-fire that ended eight days of raging hostilities in November.
Two explosions outside of an Israeli city near Gaza led police bomb disposal experts on a search for new rockets Wednesday, said spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
“We found one rocket that landed in the entrance of Sderot without causing injury, no damage. Luckily it fell in an open area.”
Explosives engineers are still looking for a second one, he said. “It is the second wave of rockets in the last 24 hours. One rocket was fired yesterday and landed in the Eshkol Region.”
Israel Defense Forces said war planes accurately struck two terror targets in Gaza on Tuesday, but Palestinian security officials said the strike hit empty land, causing no injuries. The majority of rockets launched from Gaza lack precision and nose-dive into open areas in Israel.
Defense minister Moshe Ya’alon lashed out at Hamas, blaming the Islamist party that governs Gaza for the rocket fire and justifying Israel’s military action.
“We will not let any fire drip down on our civilians or forces,” he said.
Small groups claim responsibility
Hamas has denied any connection to recent rocket strikes.
The al-Qaeda affiliated Mojahideen Shura claimed responsibility for firing two rockets at the Eshkol region Tuesday, saying it was retaliation for the death of a prominent Palestinian prisoner who died the same day in Israeli custody.
Retired Palestinian general Maysara Abu Hamdiya died of cancer at age 64 after being transferred from prison to an Israeli hospital. He had been incarcerated since 2002 in connection with the bombing of a Jerusalem cafe.
His death triggered outrage among Palestinians, who accuse Israel of denying him treatment. 4,500 fellow inmates have gone on a three day hunger strike to protest his passing, according to a Palestinian prisoners’ association.
Ya’alon stressed that there was no relation between Israel’s actions in Gaza and Abu Hamdiya’s death.
Hamas has said a group called Khalid Ibn Al-waleed claimed responsibility for other recent launches at Israel, and that it has no connection to Hamas.
Dust up with Syria
Ya’alon also vented anger at the Syrian government in Damascus, holding it responsible for an alleged attack in the Israeli held Golan Heights, an area Syria claims as its own.
“As far as we are concerned, the regime in Syria is responsible for everything that is happening in its territory and will not allow fire to fall on Israeli territory without reaction,” he said.
Ya’alon said the defense forces destroyed the source of the alleged attack overnight.
CNN’s Salma Abdelazziz contributed to this report