Israel strikes Gaza in retaliation for rockets launched at Tel Aviv

March 14 (UPI) — Israeli airstrikes hit Hamas targets within Gaza Thursday night in retaliation to two rockets fired earlier at central Israel from the Palestinian-controlled area along the country’s western coast.

“We have just started striking terror sites in Gaza,” the Israeli Defense Force said on Twitter. “Details to follow.”

IDF attacked several military facilities within Gaza, striking six buildings used by the militant Palestinian organization, Haaretz reported.

The Israeli airstrikes resulted in no casualties, Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra said in a tweet, as the buildings were preemptively evacuated.

“Is this what you want for your people?” U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblat asked Hamas and terrorist organization in Gaza via Twitter. “You’re the cause of this misery. You choose violence. You’re ruining lives day after day after day. No one else. Time to choose something else.”

Following the start of the Israeli air strikes, incoming rocket sirens blared in Israeli communities along Gaza.

Two rockets fired from Gaza were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, the IDF said.

Earlier Thursday, two rockets were fired from Gaza toward Tel Aviv, setting off emergency sirens in the capital for the first time since Israel conducted a large scale military operation in Gaza in 2014.

The Iron Dome missile defense system was activated by the rocket fire but was not fire as they fell in open territory, The Jerusalem Post reported.

IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said the military wasn’t immediately sure who fired the rockets and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza said it played no role.

However, following the start of Israel’s airstrikes against Gaza, the IDF confirmed via Twitter that the rockets were those of Hamas.

“We can confirm that rockets fired from Gaza at Tel Aviv earlier tonight were launched by the Hama terrorist organization,” it said in a tweet.

No damage or injuries were immediately reported following the Hamas rockets, but several Israelis were treated for shock.

A Palestinian source in Gaza told Haaretz the rockets were fired from the northern section of the enclave.

Prior to the airstrikes on Gaza late Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, held an emergency security consultation at army headquarters in Tel Aviv.

An Egyptian security delegation also departed Gaza at Israel’s request after the rockets were fired.

The Israel Police said it wouldn’t take special precautionary measures unless instructed to do so by the government.

Tel Aviv and Rishon Lezion both announced they planned to open public shelters and reports from Gaza stated that Hamas had begun evacuating military posts, anticipating retaliatory strikes from Israel.

The attacks come as the April 9 election nears and security has been a hot topic as tensions between the two warring sides have been ratcheting up with the most recent incident occurring last Saturday when a ballistic was launched from Gaza at Israel.

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