JERUSALEM – Militants in the Gaza Strip fired two rockets toward Israel on Monday, one of which was shot down by the country’s powerful missile defense system, the military said.
The army said the defense battery – known as the “Iron Dome” – intercepted one rocket above the city of Ashkelon. It said the military was searching for the second launched. No injuries were reported in the attack.
Since it went into operation in 2011, the Iron Dome system has shot down hundreds of rockets launched by Gaza militants.
In response to the rockets and a mortar round fired from Gaza the day before, the military said its aircraft struck the sites of two concealed rocket launchers in Gaza. There were no reports of injuries in Gaza from the strikes.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Palestinian rocket fire.
The Palestinian rocket fire came as Israel released the names of 26 Palestinian prisoners to be freed as part of a U.S.-brokered deal that led to the resumption of Mideast peace talks. The prisoners were jailed for the killings of Israelis before the beginning of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in 1993.
The release is likely to take place later on Tuesday, 48 hours after the prisoners’ names are publicized and giving Israeli families the opportunity to appeal their release before the courts, which rarely intervene in such cases.
According to the U.S.-brokered deal, 104 Palestinian prisoners are to be released in four stages during the nine months set aside for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. This week’s release will be the second stage of the deal.
An Israeli government statement said any prisoner who resumes hostile activity following his release will be arrested and incarcerated to serve the remainder of his sentence.