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Israeli Fighter jets launches airstrikes on 100 Targets in Gaza

The Israeli army attacked some 100 targets in Gaza Thursday overnight in response to two rockets being fired at Tel Aviv from the Strip the evening before, a first since the 2014 war.

According to a preliminary army assessment, the rockets were fired at Tel Aviv by mistake during maintenance work.

Air strikes on Gaza were launched hours after rockets were fired near Tel Aviv, raising fears of a major escalation in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Explosions were heard in the Gaza Strip early Friday and Palestinian witnesses said Israeli planes bombed Hamas security positions.

There was no immediate word of casualties. About 30 strikes targeted positions held by the military wing of Hamas and their ally Islamic Jihad, causing significant damage, a Gazan security source told AFP news agency.

The Israeli military early Friday announced it had launched airstrikes on “terror sites in Gaza,” a retaliatory move after rockets blamed on the militant group Hamas were fired on Tel Aviv.

“We have just started striking terror sites in Gaza. Details to follow,” the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tweeted.

The strikes were occurring in Khan Younis, roughly 15 miles south of Gaza City, according to The Associated Press. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The military later said they confirmed “the rockets fired from #Gaza at #TelAviv earlier tonight were launched by the Hamas terrorist organization.”

Earlier, Hamas and many smaller Palestinian groups strongly denied responsibility, according to The Associated Press.

The rockets triggered air raid sirens across the city – about 80km north of Gaza – which is Israel’s densely populated commercial and cultural capital.

Explosions were heard in Tel Aviv and witnesses said Iron Dome interceptor missiles were fired skyward and detonated – although the military said no rockets were shot down.

“I heard the rocket and I heard the siren going off. It was a bit surprising, I didn’t think that, you know, it could really reach Tel Aviv,” said resident Yonah Zeff.

The rocket salvo caused no damage or casualties, but it rattled Israeli nerves ahead of an April 9 election in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking a fifth term on the strength of his national security and diplomatic credentials.

Hamas denied responsibility for the attack on Tel Aviv, saying the rockets were launched when the group’s military wing was meeting with Egyptian mediators to try to strengthen a ceasefire with Israel.

Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, two smaller Gaza armed factions, also denied responsibility.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the group seized control of Gaza in 2007. Hamas possesses a big arsenal of rockets and missiles, but it has sought to contain violence with Israel since the last war in 2014.

Tensions have been high for the past year along the Israel-Gaza frontier since Palestinians began protesting near Israel’s border fence that have often drawn a lethal response from the Israeli military.

About 250 Palestinians have been killed in the demonstrations and thousands more wounded.

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