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Israeli fighter jets strike Gaza after first rocket fired from enclave since early May

Move came just hours after Israel announced it had banned all fishing off Gaza over the launch of incendiary balloons
The strike came after Israel said its air defences intercepted a rocket launched from the besieged territory (Reuters/File photo)

Israeli warplanes bombed bunkers at what the military said was a Hamas base in Gaza early on Thursday, following the first rocket fire from the besieged territory since early May.

Israeli aircraft targeted "underground infrastructure" at the base in the southern Gaza Strip, the military said in a statement.

The strike came after Israel said its air defences intercepted a rocket launched from the territory, the first since hundreds were fired in early May in a two-day flare-up which killed 25 Palestinians and four Israelis.

On Thursday evening, a rocket from Gaza hit a building in the Israeli town of Siderot, causing no casualties, Haaretz reported. Israel responded by striking a compound used by Hamas' navy, the newspaper said, citing a military statement.

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On Wednesday evening, Israel announced it had banned all fishing off Gaza in retaliation for the launch of more incendiary balloons from the enclave.

"Due to the continuous launching of incendiary balloons and kites from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, it has been decided tonight not to allow access to Gaza's maritime space until further notice," the Israeli defence ministry department responsible for Palestinian civil affairs, COGAT, said.

The move came after COGAT said on Tuesday it had reduced the extent of the fishing zone to six nautical miles offshore from 10 nautical miles, having downscaled it from 15 nautical miles a week ago.

Crippling blockade

A spokesman for the Israeli fire service said incendiary balloons from Gaza had caused seven fires on Tuesday, the AFP news agency reported.

In the past year, Palestinians have succeeded in setting fire to large areas of farmland in southern Israel.

Israel had only restored the fishing limit to 15 miles on 4 June, after a previous cut in response to fire balloons.

Israel has maintained a crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip since 2007, which critics say amounts to collective punishment of the impoverished enclave's two million residents.

Egypt also upholds the siege, restricting movement in and out of Gaza on its border.