Israel fires on Hamas targets after rocket attacks


It was unclear where the two rockets fired toward Tel Aviv landed, but no damage was reported. It would be the first time that Tel Aviv has been targeted by rocket fire since a 2014 war against Gaza militants.

Fires caused by Palestinian incendiary devices attached to kites and balloons have set ablaze large areas of Israeli forest and farmland along the Israel-Gaza border.

Hamas, which dominates Gaza, insisted it was not behind the rocket fire. Israel's military has responded with widespread airstrikes.

Sources from Gaza told the Kan, an Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, that an agreement to cease fire was negotiated Friday "with the help of Egyptian mediators", The Times of Israel reports.

The Israeli military said they believed Hamas was responsible.

The fighting broke out amid Egyptian efforts to broker an expanded cease-fire deal between the bitter enemies, who last fought a war in 2014.

The blasts were so powerful that smoke could be seen in Gaza City, 25 kilometres away from some of the strikes.

The first rocket attack came on Thursday evening, with warning sirens sounding in the Tel Aviv area and residents hearing explosions.

Gaza is controlled by Hamas, an Islamic militant group that considers Israel an illegitimate occupying force in Palestinian lands and seeks its destruction.

"Fighter planes, combat helicopters and (other) aircrafts attacked some 100 terrorist targets of the Hamas terrorist organization throughout the Gaza Strip".

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Netanyahu warned Sunday that Israel would not hesitate to launch a "large-scale operation" in Gaza if provoked.

Earlier this week, Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, one of Netanyahu's allies, said Gantz was Hamas's preferred candidate to win the elections.

It left 2,251 dead on the Palestinian side, mostly civilians, and 74 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.

It comes with the one-year anniversary of mass protests and clashes along the Gaza-Israel border fence approaching on March 30.

It also closed both its border crossings with Gaza in reprisal, further isolating the blockaded enclave where deteriorating living conditions have stoked violent protests along the border.

"In keeping with the public interest, the commission has chose to exceptionally postpone its activities scheduled for this day", the body which organizes the protests said in a statement, according to AFP.

The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas militant group that runs Gaza, has said it was not responsible. The assessment indicated that Hamas had no intention of escalating violence with Israel.

Two people were wounded in the strikes on Gaza. In a statement early Friday, the army said "we can confirm" that Hamas carried out the rocket attack.

Two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards central Israel, the Israeli army said on Thursday, prompting concerns about possible Israeli retaliation against the besieged Palestinian territory.