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Israel Launches Gaza Strikes After Rockets Fired at Tel Aviv

Israel Launches Gaza Strikes After Rockets Fired at Tel Aviv

The remarks came as Israel launched air attacks on Gaza hours after rockets were fired near Tel Aviv, raising fears of a major escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Fighter jets and helicopters struck around 100 Hamas targets inside the Gaza Strip, the army said, including sites affiliated with the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas's armed wing) and Saraya al-Quds (Islamic Jihad's armed wing).

A couple was injured when their house was damaged in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, according to the source.

Israel said a preliminary investigation had concluded that the group was behind the rocket fire.

Israeli media are citing an Israeli defence official as saying that the rockets may have been launched "by mistake" while maintenance work was being carried out.

The first rocket attack came on Thursday evening, with warning sirens sounding in the Tel Aviv area and residents hearing explosions. No casualties were reported.

The airstrikes followed a rare rocket attack on the Israeli metropolis of Tel Aviv late Thursday.

Hamas is demanding concessions that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, afraid of losing his right-wing electoral base, will not want to concede in this critical time just before parliamentary elections on April 9. The Israeli warplanes could be heard roaring through the skies above Gaza City.

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Weekly protests along the Gaza-Israel border were called off Friday after a military escalation between the Jewish state and Palestinian militants in the territory, organizers announced.

A security official briefed on the situation, who declined to be identified by name or nationality, told Reuters the launch was "the result of an error - that an attack on Israel was not intended". Four people were wounded, health ministry officials said.

In a statement sent to journalists, a Qassam Brigades spokesman drew attention to the fact that the launches had taken place during a visit to Gaza by a security delegation from Egypt, which has been leading mediation efforts between Israel and Hamas. "Israel holds Hamas responsible, hence the response".

Rocket fire toward Israel's southern communities near the Gaza Strip is common, but Tel Aviv is rarely targeted.

The attack Thursday night was the first time that Tel Aviv has been targeted since a 2014 war.

In a statement early Friday, the army said it was targeting "terror sites".

Tensions between Israel and Gaza have been boiling ever since Palestinians began violent protests near Israel's border fence.

Danon slammed Hamas saying it uses civilians "as human shields" and that "a terrorist organization that tries to harm Israel will encounter a relentless and uncompromising force".