May 26, 9:37 AM EDT

Israeli airstrike hits Hamas sites after Gaza rocket attacks



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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Israeli aircraft struck two Hamas militant sites in southern Gaza on Thursday in response to rocket fire toward Israel, the Israeli military said.

No one was harmed in Thursday's airstrikes or in the rocket attacks that preceded them.

Gaza militants have carried out only sporadic rocket fire toward Israel since the end of a 50-day war in 2014. The military says nine rockets have struck Israel so far in 2016, a steep drop off from previous periods.

Israel typically responds to the attacks with pinpoint reprisals against Hamas installations that cause no casualties in order to prevent a further escalation.

Recent rocket fire has often been carried out by other militant groups in the coastal strip that oppose Gaza's Hamas rulers. Nonetheless, Israel says it holds Hamas responsible for any attacks coming from territory it controls.

Also Thursday, Israel's Defense Ministry said authorities thwarted an attempt to smuggle into Gaza hundreds of pipes with special drill fittings for the production of rockets and mortars, as well as dozens of electric motors to construct underground tunnels. The items are believed to have been destined for Hamas militants in the Palestinian territory, it said.

Israeli security personnel found the material hidden in a consignment of textiles and jewelry to be sent to Gaza through an Israeli border crossing, according to a statement from Israel's Defense Ministry.

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