An Israeli pilot died Wednesday while trying to land following an attack mission, the army confirmed in a statement, according to Anadolu Agency.
The F-16 caught fire while landing at Ramon Air Force Base in Negev in southern Israel after striking the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Maj. Ohad Cohen Nov was killed and his assistant sustained minor injuries, the statement said.
The Israeli air forces is investigating the incident.
Israeli warplanes struck several positions in the blockaded Gaza Strip on Wednesday, according to eyewitnesses.
Israeli army jets targeted on Wednesday the Al-Qudisiya command post, which belongs to the Ezzeddin al-Qassam Brigades, in the Gaza Strip’s southern city of Khan Younis, eyewitnesses told Anadolu Agency.
The Ezzeddin al-Qassam Brigades is the armed wing of Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, which has governed the strip since 2007.
Eyewitnesses, who spoke anonymously due to fears for their safety, also said that Israeli warplanes had struck empty agricultural land east of Gaza City.
The air raids came shortly after Israeli forces reportedly shelled a number of Al-Qassam command posts in the town of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip.
The Israeli shelling was in ostensible retaliation for a rocket allegedly fired shortly before into southern Israel from inside the strip.
Early on Wednesday, the Israeli army said in a statement that a rocket fired from the besieged coastal enclave had exploded in Israel’s southern city of Sderot.
The Salafist group Ahfad al-Sahaba reportedly claimed responsibility for the rocket fire.
The Israeli army has previously said they held the Hamas movement — the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip — responsible for all attacks from the territory, although other Palestinian militant groups are active in the small coastal enclave.
Later in the day, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri condemned the Israeli attacks on the besieged enclave, saying that Hamas could not “stand by idly” if Israel continued its escalation and called upon the international community to stop Israel’s aggression in Gaza.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for Islamic Jihad, Dawood Shihab, said that the group held Israel fully responsible for the attacks on the Gaza Strip. Shihab told Ma’an that Israel’s escalation of attacks on the small Palestinian territory was an attempt to refocus attention away from the “crimes [Israel] is planning” against the all-women Freedom Flotilla which was intercepted by the Israeli navy on Wednesday evening while approaching the shores of Gaza to disrupt the devastating Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip.
Shihab added that the Israeli military escalation was a political move and the group would not “fall for the enemy’s plan.” However, Shihab said that the group would respond if Israeli forces continued attacks in Gaza.
It is the latest such incident to occur since Israeli forces carried out several airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip in mid-September, after a rocket was launched from Gaza and exploded in an open area in southern Israel. No injuries were reported.
September’s airstrikes came as the second wave of Israeli shelling to strike the besieged Gaza Strip in the span of a month, while a few weeks earlier the Israeli army fired missiles into the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun that left at least five Palestinians injured in late August, after a rocket fired from Gaza fell inside Sderot, with no injuries or damage reported by the Israeli army.
On July 1, Israeli forces launched airstrikes at several sites allegedly used by Palestinian factions in the besieged coastal enclave in response to a rocket fired from Gaza which landed in Sderot.
In May, a Palestinian woman was killed during several consecutive days of sustained airstrikes and tank shelling from Israeli forces, allegedly in response to cross-border mortar shelling and a rocket being fired from the Gaza Strip.
The majority of the more than 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are sealed inside the coastal enclave due to a near-decade long military blockade imposed by Israel and upheld by Egypt on the southern border.
The crippling blockade was imposed following the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections and the subsequent 2007 clashes between Fatah and Hamas, which left Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip and Fatah in control of the occupied West Bank.
In July and August of 2014, Israel waged a weeks-long military offensive against the Gaza Strip with the ostensible aim of staunching rocket fire from the Palestinian territory.
Over 2,160 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed — and another 11,000 injured — during the onslaught.
According to official Israeli figures, 73 Israelis — mostly soldiers — were killed in the 51-day conflict.