Israeli launches Gaza strikes after rockets fired at Tel Aviv

Air Raid Warning Sirens Go Off In Tel Aviv After Apparent Gaza Rocket Attack

Air Raid Warning Sirens Go Off In Tel Aviv After Apparent Gaza Rocket Attack

Two sirens blared as loud explosions boomed in Tel Aviv, the Jerusalem Post reported.

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. Thursday's rocket strikes were the first on the Tel Aviv area since the end of the 2014 war in Gaza.

Rocket sirens wailed in the densely populated Mediterranean city on Thursday evening, alerting residents to rush to bomb shelters.

The warplanes could be heard flying overhead in Gaza City, where smoke from the explosions could be seen about 15 miles away from some of the strikes.

The IDF response comes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concluded a security meeting at the IDF's Tel Aviv headquarters.

"Continue life as usual", he told Channel 10 TV.

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. It said that the aircraft then returned and attacked the same site 4 more times. "Be calm, but be alert".

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Israel holds Hamas responsible for any rocket fire from Gaza, even if carried out by smaller groups outside direct Hamas control.

In an unusual step that indicated Hamas was attempting to prevent further escalation, the Hamas Interior Ministry said the rocket fire went "against the national consensus" and promised to take action against the perpetrators. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since Hamas sized control of Gaza in 2007.

Israeli analysts speculated that Palestinian militants opposed to any deal between Hamas and Israel were behind the launchings.

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. Late Thursday, local media said that Egyptian mediators left the territory. The Iran-backed Al-Sabareen terrorist group in Gaza has yet to release an official statement following the rocket attacks.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another Gaza faction, also denied being involved in the incident, Reuters reported.

Earlier this week, Netanyahu issued a warning to Hamas, rejecting suggestions that Israel would be reluctant to take tough action in Gaza ahead of national elections next month. "We will do anything necessary to restore security and quiet to the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip and to the south in general".

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