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JERUSALEM (AP) _ An Israeli warplane bombed a Gaza metalworks factory after nightfall Wednesday, witnesses and the Israeli military said. The Israelis said the factory was used to manufacture weapons for the violent Islamic Hamas. No one was hurt.

The factory was at the entrance to the Mughazi refugee camp in central Gaza. Witness Hassan Jabber, 40, said several Israeli F-16 warplanes circled over the area, and then one of them dropped a bomb on the factory, causing a huge explosion.

Palestinian police and ambulances raced to the scene, and a crowd gathered outside. Palestinians said there were no casualties, but considerable damage was caused.

In a statement, the Israeli military said the factory was used to manufacture mortar bombs and rockets for Hamas. ``Because of the increase in firing mortars in recent days, the factory was bombed as part of the war against terrorist infrastructure,'' the statement said.

Palestinians have been firing mortars at Jewish settlements in Gaza almost nightly for more than a week, but no one has been hurt. Settlers say that a few days ago, a mortar shell landed next to a woman and her baby, but it did not explode.

Palestinians said that the bombed factory is one of the largest metal works facilities in the Gaza Strip and is owned by businessman Omar Namruti.