Israel fires on Hamas targets after rocket attacks


Cross-border fighting between Israel and Gaza's ruling Hamas group appeared to be winding down Friday, amid reports of an Egyptian-brokered truce and Israeli media saying a misfire was believed to be responsible for the rare Gaza rocket attack on Tel Aviv that triggered the exchange.

In response, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) carried out airstrikes on more than 100 targets in Gaza, including a claimed headquarters for planning attacks in the West Bank and an underground manufacturing site for rockets.

In a statement, the Israeli military said it had struck "approximately 100 military targets" belonging to Gaza-ruling Hamas.

Witnesses said powerful explosions from the air strikes rocked buildings in Gaza and lit the skies over targeted sites.

Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, led an urgent meeting with senior military officials after the attempted strike to discuss a response, local media reported.

Israeli soldiers are seen on top of an armoured personnel carrier (APC) near the border between Israel and Gaza on its Israeli side, March 15, 2019.

The two rockets had struck late Thursday, taking Israel's military by surprise.

The rocket fire on Tel Aviv, the first since 2014, mark a significant escalation that raised the likelihood of a harsh Israeli reprisal.

It was unclear where the two rockets fired toward Tel Aviv landed, but no damage was reported.

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On March 14, rockets are fired from Gaza towards the region of Tel Aviv.

Israel attributed responsibility for the overnight rockets to Hamas, despite official denial from the Gaza-based militant group.

Pompeo also defended the administration's work toward a denuclearization deal with North Korea, saying real progress was made in Hanoi even though a final agreement was not reached.

It's a first since Israel's 2014 campaign in Gaza.

The attack on Israel's largest metropolitan area took place as Hamas leaders met Egyptian delegates in Gaza to discuss efforts to secure a long-term ceasefire with Israel.

The latest flare-up drew a United States statement of support for Israel. But Israel's military said it had concluded the group was behind the attack.

About four hours after the launches, the IDF announced it had begun striking targets in Gaza in response.

At the time, Netanyahu issued a warning to Hamas, rejecting suggestions that Israel would be reluctant to take tough action in Gaza ahead of national elections next month. As well as the strip's rulers, Hamas, other armed factions operate in the territory, including Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed organisation that has launched rockets in the past.

"I suggest to Hamas, don't count on it", he told his Cabinet.