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Israeli forces strike Gaza targets after rocket salvo

Israel said it struck targets in the Gaza Strip on Monday after Palestinian militants fired rockets at southern Israel in what they said was a response to an Israel airstrike that wounded two militants and eight bystanders.

Meanwhile, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, citing The Associated Press, said the Israeli air force flew mock raids over southern Lebanon after a mysterious unmanned aircraft was shot down over Israel over the weekend.


An Iranian military official was quoted as saying Monday that the drone's incursion exposed the weakness of Israeli air defenses, but did not confirm or deny Israeli charges that Tehran and southern Lebanon-based Shiite militia group Hezbollah were behind it.

Jamaluddin Aberoumand, deputy coordinator for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said the incident indicated that Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile defense system "does not work and lacks the necessary capacity," Fars news agency reported.

Israeli officials says a drone missile they shot down may have been saying on crucial sites. NBC's Duncan Golestani reports.

The Iron Dome system, jointly funded with the United States, is designed to shoot down short-range guerrilla rockets, not slow-flying aircraft. It intercepted more than 80 percent of the targets it engaged in March when nearly 300 rockets and mortars were fired at southern Israel, the Pentagon said at the time.

The drone was first spotted above the Mediterranean near the Gaza Strip to the west of Israel, said military spokeswoman Avital Leibovich. An Israeli warplane shot it down above a forest near the occupied West Bank.

Israeli parliament member Miri Regev, a former chief spokesman of the military, wrote on Twitter it was an "Iranian drone launched by Hezbollah."

Israeli defense officials have not confirmed the charge.

On at least one occasion, Iranian-backed Hezbollah has sent a drone into Israeli airspace. Also, in 2010, an Israeli warplane shot down an apparently unmanned balloon in the Negev near the country's Dimona nuclear reactor.

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Sunday's flyover by Israeli jets appeared intended to demonstrate to Hezbollah that Israel retained air superiority, according to the AP.

On Monday, the Israeli army said it had targeted "Hamas terror activity sites and terrorist squads responsible for the rocket fire"in Gaza, but gave no details.

Gaza hospital officials said one Islamic Jihad militant thought to have been involved in the rocket attack had been wounded by Israeli tank fire east of the town of Rafah.

Residents of the town of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip said an Israeli tank fired at the suspected launch area, slightly wounding four children and damaging a mosque minaret and a water tower.

The Israeli army says 470 rockets have been fired from Gaza this year, 10 in October alone.

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The armed wing of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist faction that controls the Gaza Strip, said it had carried out the latest rocket attack with the militant Islamic Jihad group.

It was the first time since June that Hamas had acknowledged launching rockets at Israel.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said some rockets had landed harmlessly near the border with the Gaza Strip.

An Israeli air strike on Sunday was aimed at two Palestinian militants, one of whom was critically wounded, as was one of the bystanders.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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