Israel hits targets across Gaza after rocket attack

Last Updated 26 March 2019, 07:05 IST

Israeli forces continued striking targets across the Gaza Strip through Tuesday, including the offices of Hamas' supreme leader, in response to a surprise rocket attack from the Palestinian territory, as the military bolstered its troops and rocket-defense systems in anticipation of a new round of heavy fighting with the Islamic militant group.

Israel opened public bomb shelters in most major cities and civil defense authorities cancelled sports events and public transportation in southern Israel. The Israeli army said at least 30 rockets had been fired into Israel, as air raid sirens wailed across southern Israel late Monday night. The army said nearly all of the rockets were either intercepted or landed in open areas.

"Israel will not tolerate this. I will not tolerate this," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared during a White House meeting with President Donald Trump. "Israel is responding forcefully to this wanton aggression," he said.

"We will do whatever we must do to defend our people and defend our state." Late Monday, Hamas announced that a cease-fire had been brokered by Egyptian mediators. But renewed rocket fire in Gaza and air-raid sirens in southern Israel were heard shortly after.

The Israeli military said it had retaliated with 15 airstrikes to the latest rocket attacks, hitting military sites for Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad group.

Gaza's health ministry said seven Palestinians were injured in the fresh bombings. Ahead of the Israeli airstrikes, Hamas' leadership went into hiding.

Several airstrikes rocked Gaza on Monday, including an explosion that destroyed the office of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. The Israeli military confirmed the bombing, saying the building had "served as an office for many military meetings." An earlier blast destroyed a multistory building in Gaza City that Israel said had served as a Hamas military intelligence headquarters.

There were no immediate reports of casualties. In both blasts, Israel fired warning shots to evacuate the buildings. But the airstrike on the multistory building was so powerful it sent debris flying onto the roof of The Associated Press bureau, located on the 11th floor of a nearby high-rise.

(Published 26 March 2019, 06:59 IST)

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