Israeli jets conducted airstrikes Monday in the Gaza Strip, responding to rockets fired by Palestinian Sunni militant group Hamas into southern Israel earlier in the day, Reuters reported.
The airstrikes, which hit five positions in the coastal Palestinian territory, according to an Israeli defense official, reportedly wounded four bystanders while no casualties were reported from Hamas' rocket attack. Israel's bombing Monday followed an airstrike Wednesday on Syrian army positions moving munitions for Tel Aviv's enemy, Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, near Damascus. While Israel has maintained public neutrality over the war in neighboring Syria, it has previously struck positions held by Hezbollah, which, like Hamas, Israel has labeled a terrorist group. Israel has also labeled the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, a terrorist group, but has only bombed its positions once, despite the jihadists having taken territory near the Syrian-Israel border region of the Golan Heights.
Tel Aviv's targeting of Hamas and Hezbollah has frustrated their efforts to battle ISIS' regional influence. While ISIS has not gained a significant foothold in the Palestinian territories, Hamas has reportedly struggled to control the actions of more radical, jihadist groups, especially those allied to ISIS operating in the neighboring Sinai Peninsula region of Egypt. In Syria, Hezbollah, along with Russia, has established itself as one of the primary forces backing President Bashar Assad in Damascus' war against ISIS and various opposition groups, which have taken large swathes of land in Syria.
Israel has offered medical support to militants of some of these Syrian opposition groups. Tel Aviv's assistance has further split the loyalties of Palestinian militant groups in Syria, some of which have been sympathetic to the opposition and others who have fought alongside pro-government forces. Hamas was once an ally of the Syrian government, but endorsed the opposition in 2013, putting aid from pro-Assad Iran at risk. One Palestinian militia called the Galilee Forces joined the Syrian army and allies Thursday in fighting ISIS near the historic city of Palmyra in central Syria, according to pro-government news outlet al Masdar News.
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