Israeli Warplanes Hit 100 Hamas Targets After Rocket Attack

A Palestinian protester holds a national flag as another protester throws a stone towards Israeli forces during a demonstration on the beach near the maritime border with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired two rockets toward Tel Aviv late Thursday, the Israeli military said, marking a significant escalation that raised the likelihood of a harsh Israeli reprisal.

The army said the targets included a rocket manufacturing site, a naval post described as a weapons depot and an office complex in Gaza City that the military said was the headquarters for Hamas' militant activities.

Netanyahu past year was criticized by members of his own government coalition for being soft on Hamas by agreeing to a cease-fire with that group after a spate of rocket attacks from Gaza toward communities in southern Israel.

Explosions have been heard in the Gaza Strip early on Friday as witnesses said Israeli planes bombed two security positions controlled by Hamas.

The IDF estimates that the two rockets launched by Hamas into metropolitan Tel Aviv was made in error, and Hamas did not intend to carry out an attack. The strikes were a response to terrorist rocket attacks that targeted southern Israel and as far away as Tel Aviv.

But Israel's military said they were launched by Hamas.

The rocket barrage triggered air raid sirens across the city, which is Israel's densely populated commercial and cultural capital.

But with Gaza's economy in tatters, the group has been seeking to preserve calm.




Reports from inside the territory said sites around Khan Younis in the south of the Strip were among the first to be hit.

The statement comes as the Times of Israel quoted an unnamed Hamas official as saying that the group "has no interest in an escalation" with Israel.

Land Day also coincides with the first anniversary of the weekly protests along the Gaza-Israel border.

Israel Defence Force spokesman Avichay Adraee, in turn, wrote on his Twitter page that "in response to the rocket fire at Israel, some 100 [Hamas] terrorist targets have been hit across the Gaza Strip".

Israel normally holds Hamas responsible for any violence emanating from Gaza, regardless of which group perpetrated the attack.

Palestinian factions have criticized the crackdown on the protesters in Gaza, stressing their right to peaceful protest and to express their views on their dismal situation under Hamas rule. Smaller flare-ups have occurred sporadically since Israel and Hamas fought their last war, in 2014. Israeli analysts speculated that Palestinian militants opposed to any deal between Hamas and Israel were behind the missile attack.

Hamas' violent clash with protestors suggests residents have little desire for another war with Israel.

Naftali Bennett, a member of Netanyahu's security cabinet who is vying with him for rightist-votes in the looming ballot, issued a statement demanding the assassination of Hamas chiefs.

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