Published: Fri, March 15, 2019
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Israel strikes Gaza targets following Tel Aviv rocket attack

Israel strikes Gaza targets following Tel Aviv rocket attack

Two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at the Tel Aviv area on Thursday, setting off sirens, the Israeli military said, and several explosions were heard.

Israeli news media reported on rocket sirens blasting across Tel Aviv as well as the satellite cities of Ramat Gan, Givatayim, Bat Yam, Holon, Azor and Rishon Letzion.

Meanwhile, Hamas denied responsibility for rockets fired into Israel, saying the attack took place as it held truce talks with Egyptian mediators.

As tensions have risen in Gaza over Israel's lethal response to weekly protests at the frontier during the past year, militants in the enclave have fired hundreds of projectiles into surrounding areas, although not as far north as Tel Aviv.

Alarms were also reportedly triggered in Holon and other cities in central Israel.

Smoke and flame are seen during an Israeli air strike in Gaza March 15, 2019.

The Israeli military is reporting air-raid sirens in southern Israel, signaling new rocket fire out of the Gaza Strip.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and military leaders are holding security consultations in response to the rockets, Israeli media also reported.

A military spokesman told the TV that civilians should carry on with their usual routines unless instructed otherwise.

Political observers raised concerns that the rockets fired from Gaza may be used as a pretext for Israel to launch a military assault on the besieged Palestinian territory.

That was echoed by US President Donald Trump's special representative for Middle East negotiations, who only minutes after the first reports were issued on Thursday said Hamas was responsible. "Be calm, but be alert".

Israeli analysts speculated that Palestinian militants opposed to any deal between Hamas and Israel were behind the launchings. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since Hamas sized control of Gaza in 2007.

It wasn't immediately clear which group in Gaza was responsible for the surprise rocket fire, which occurred on the eve of weekly Hamas-spurred Friday mass rallies and riots along the Strip's border. The Iran-backed Al-Sabareen terrorist group in Gaza has yet to release an official statement following the rocket attacks. Islamic Jihad quickly denied responsibility, says Slier. "We'll do whatever is necessary to return the peace and quiet to the Gaza border communities, and the entire south".

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