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Israel strikes Gaza in retaliation for rockets launched at Tel Aviv

17 March 2019
Israel strikes Gaza in retaliation for rockets launched at Tel Aviv

Israel conducts new airstrikes against the Gaza Strip amid rising tensions with Palestinians in the besieged region.

Overnight, Israeli aircraft and helicopters strike dozens of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. The army said targets included an office complex in Gaza City used to plan and command Hamas militant activities, an underground complex that served as Hamas' main rocket-manufacturing site and a centre used for Hamas drone development.

Witnesses said powerful explosions from the air strikes rocked buildings in Gaza and lit the skies over targeted sites.

According to the Israeli army, two rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli territory.

Footage captured the moment Israel shot down rockets over Tel Aviv reportedly fired from Palestinian territory.

The Israeli military said its rocket sirens were activated in communities near the Gaza Strip border on Friday soon after it carried out air strikes.

The Israeli military said its Iron Dome aerial defense system did not make any interceptions of the rockets, despite early reports to the contrary.

Both Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs Gaza, and its ally Islamic Jihad denied they were behind the rocket fire toward Tel Aviv, raising the possibility they were launched by fringe groups. Though the attack caused no damage or injuries, it was a significant escalation and set the stage for a tough Israeli reprisal.

In October 2018, a rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza fell into the sea off Tel Aviv and another hit the southern city of Beersheba.

Netanyahu immediately met with defence chiefs at military headquarters in Tel Aviv afterwards, and Israel's response began before dawn Friday.

The wave of violence in Gaza erupted on 3 December after a Hamas commander was killed in a covert Israeli operation.

Weekly protests along the Gaza-Israel border were called off on Friday after a military escalation between the Jewish state and Palestinian militants, organizers have said.

Hamas denied involvement, saying the launches took place as its leaders met Egyptian delegates about efforts to secure a long-term ceasefire with Israel.

The fighting broke out as Egyptian mediators were in Gaza trying to broker an expanded cease-fire deal between the bitter enemies.

On May 14, tens of thousands of Palestinians return to the barrier as the USA opens its controversial embassy in Jerusalem after recognising the disputed city as Israel's capital. No Israelis were injured in the attacks. Hamas possesses a large arsenal of rockets and missiles capable of striking deep inside Israel.

The Israeli military accused Hamas of firing rockets from Gaza toward Tel Aviv - the first time the seaside city had been targeted since the 2014 Gaza War.

"I'd suggest to Hamas - don't count on it".