Israel hits Hamas site in Gaza with airstrike

The Israeli military said it had carried out an airstrike on a Hamas site in Southern Gaza on Saturday, in response to a rocket strike from the Gaza strip into Israel on Friday.

The Jerusalem Post reports that there were were at least two strikes by the Israel Air Force, and there were no immediate reports of  injuries.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed a direct hit in a statement.

"The IDF will not permit any attempt to undermine the security and jeopardize the well being of the civilians of Israel," an IDF spokesman said. "The Hamas terrorist organization is responsible and accountable for today's attack against Israel."

Residents reported hearing two explosions in the Khan Yunis region of Gaza, in an area that contains training sites for Palestinian militants. It marks the first time the Israel Defense Forces has hit Gaza since the end of a 50-day war this summer.

The military says the airstrike early Saturday on what it called a "Hamas terror infrastructure site" in the southern Gaza Strip was in response to the rocket fired from Gaza. The rocket fire caused no injuries, police said.

Over the summer, Hamas militants launched thousands of rockets and mortars into Israel, which responded with airstrikes and a ground invasion.

In the West Bank on Friday, fierce clashes erupted between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces at a West Bank military checkpoint and near the village of Turmus Aya, though no injuries were reported.

The village was the site of a Palestinian-Israeli scuffle earlier this month during which Palestinian Cabinet minister Ziad Abu Ain collapsed. He later died en route to hospital.

Palestinian and Israeli pathologists subsequently disagreed over the cause of Abu Ain's death. The Palestinian expert said the cause of death was a "blow," while his Israeli colleague said Abu Ain died of a heart attack.

In other developments, the Israeli military on Friday began relaxing travel restrictions for Palestinian Christians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for the Christmas holiday season, saying it granted 700 permits for Gazans to travel to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.

Israel said it was also allowing West Bank Christians to travel to Israel, permitting 500 of them to visit their families in the Gaza Strip, subject to security checks.

Israel restricts Palestinians in the two territories from entering the country without special permits, citing security concerns. Travel between the territories is also restricted but those bans are usually relaxed for Christians during the holiday season.

The army also said it would also expand the working hours at military checkpoints to allow pilgrims from around the world faster access to the West Bank city of Bethlehem during Christmas.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.