A Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in an open field in the Ashkelon area late Wednesday night. No casualties were reported.
The rocket may have been fired in retaliation for Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. In response to a spate of terrorist attacks, including a bus bombing near Tel Aviv on Sunday, Israeli forces attacked multiple sites in the Gaza Strip this week. The Israel Defense Forces focused on six different targets, including a weapons-manufacturing facility. Hamas said a 4-year-old Gazan girl was killed as a result of the IDF attack.
On Wednesday, anticipating a response from Hamas, the IDF's Iron Dome anti-rocket system was placed on alert. Armor and Combat Engineering Corps personnel were given orders to increase their preparedness level, as were infantry troops. But despite the simmering tensions, Wednesday was largely uneventful. Defense officials believe Hamas' limited response was a result of its desire to avoid a large-scale confrontation with Israel, in part because it fears Egypt would view such a development unfavorably. Cairo had insisted Hamas de-escalate the latest round of hostilities.
The only unusual incident in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday took place when a Gazan man attempted to breach the fence near the strip's northern coast. Israeli forces detained him and took him in for questioning.
Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon warned Hamas on Wednesday.
"We take the terror attacks of the past few days very seriously. Hamas rules Gaza Strip and as such, we hold it responsible for the situation," he said.
"We expect it to impose its authority on its people and on the other organizations and if it does not do that, we will continue to retaliate forcefully. We will not allow the disruption of normal life in southern Israel and we will react forcefully to any attempt to harm Israelis.
"I strongly recommend that Hamas not test our patience. If there is no peace in Israel, there will be no peace in the Gaza Strip. I hope Hamas and the other organizations internalize this and calm things down. As a precautionary step we are preparing for the event of an escalation -- and this includes the deployment of Iron Dome batteries and other things -- lest people get the wrong idea.
"Things are not so peaceful in Judea and Samaria. This is particularly true when it comes to Palestinian terrorism. We are not talking about terrorists who belong to full-fledged organizations, just lone [unaffiliated] individuals. That is why we call this 'atmospheric terrorism.' We know that these attacks are a consequence of incitement. It is fanned by the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria, which teaches hatred of Israel. As long as this situation persists, we will have to deal with it, be it by increasing our troop level or by hunting down every terrorist and settling scores."
Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz met with the acting Egyptian Ambassador Mustafa Al-Kuni on Wednesday. Steinitz's office later released a statement saying the two "discussed the recent tensions in the Gaza Strip, and Steinitz made it clear that if the attacks from the Gaza Strip continue, Israel would have to retaliate with great force."
A Hamas spokesman attacked Israel on Wednesday, saying the IDF's actions "underscore the weakness of the Zionist enemy." Referring to the alleged killing of the 4-year-old girl, the spokesman said: "This shows the occupation's brutality."