Two rockets fired from Gaza at Tel Aviv area: army

  • In World
  • 2019-03-14 21:51:22Z
  • By AFP

Jerusalem (AFP) - Two rockets were fired from Gaza toward the greater Tel Aviv district on Thursday night, the Israeli army said, adding only that there were no casualties or damage.

Contrary to a report by the foreign ministry, an army statement said that "no interceptions were made" by its Iron Dome missile defence system.

Video posted by the foreign ministry and shown on public television appeared to show missiles climbing into the sky above high-rise buildings as sirens wail in the background, implying perhaps that Iron Dome was activated but did not engage incoming rockets.

"Two rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli territory," an army statement said.

"The alert and warning systems operated as required. No interceptions were made by aerial defence systems. No damage or injuries were reported."

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

Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai told the television one of the Gaza rockets "apparently fell into the sea, the other hit somewhere but not in Tel Aviv."

The station said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also defence minister, was convening an emergency security meeting at the defence ministry in Tel Aviv.

In Gaza, both rulers Hamas and Islamic Jihad, an allied group, issued statements denying any responsibility for the attack, which came just over three weeks ahead of Israel's April 9 election.

A statement from Hamas's military wing said the group was "not responsible for the rockets fired tonight towards the enemy," adding that it occurred during a visit by an Egyptian security delegation to Gaza.

Egypt is a key negotiator between the two sides.

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

Netanyahu warned Gaza's Hamas rulers on Sunday that Israel would not hesitate to launch a "large-scale operation" in Gaza if provoked.

He said that while "rogue factions" were behind recent Gaza "provocations", it "did not exempt Hamas" of responsibility.

"I've heard people in Gaza saying that since we're in an election campaign, a large-scale operation is out of the question," he said.

"I'd suggest to Hamas -- don't count on it. We'll do whatever is necessary to return the peace and quiet to the Gaza border communities, and the entire south."

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.

In response to the October fire, Israel struck 20 targets in Gaza, killing one Palestinian, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

It also closed both its border crossings with Gaza in reprisal, further isolating the blockaded enclave where deteriorating living conditions have stoked violent protests along the border.

Prior to that the last attacks on the Tel Aviv area came during the July 2014 war between Israel and Gaza militants.

It left 2,251 dead on the Palestinian side, mostly civilians, and 74 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.


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