Air raid sirens sounded in the city for the first time in two decades and residents took cover.But there were no casualties from the two rockets, which landed south of the city, in Rishon Lezion, and in the sea. Three Israelis were killed by rockets from Gaza earlier, while 15 Palestinians have been killed in two days of Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Three hundred missiles have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel since Wednesday afternoon.
While some have been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system, others have hit their targets, including a direct hit on a block of flats in the town of Kiryat Malachi. Two women and a man living on the top floor were killed. But any missile landing in Tel Aviv, Israel‘s commercial capital and most populous city, would mark a significant escalation of the conflict.
The armed wing of Islamic Jihad said it had fired an Iranian-built rocket at Tel Aviv, AFP news agency reported. “The Quds Brigades hit the occupied city of Tel Rabea (Tel Aviv) with a Fajr-5 rocket causing a large explosion to shake the city,” the group said in a brief statement.
This is the first time Tel Aviv has been threatened by missiles since the 1991 Gulf War, when missiles fired by Saddam Hussein‘s Iraq landed in the city. The Times of Israel website says sirens were also sounded in the Tel Aviv suburbs of Bnei Brak, Givatayim, and Ramat Gan.
Many of the 15 Palestinians killed in Gaza during a two-day Israeli aerial and naval bombardment were members of militant groups, but civilians – including four children – were also among the dead. They included 11-month-old Omar, the son of Jihad Misharawi, a BBC Arabic picture editor.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel will do “everything in its power” to avoid civilian casualties in the conflict with Hamas. He said Hamas was deliberately placing its rockets and missiles in civilian areas prior to launching them at Israel.
“There is no moral symmetry between Israel and the terrorists in Gaza,” he said during a televised news conference in Tel Aviv. “Hamas deliberately targets our children and they deliberately place their rockets next to their children. Now despite this reality – and it’s a difficult reality – Israel will continue to do everything its power to avoid civilian casualties.” He added that Israel would take “whatever action is necessary” to defend its citizens.
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