International Desk: Israel launched air strikes on Gaza hours after rockets were fired near Tel Aviv, raising fears of a major escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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 a news agency.
The Israeli military said it was attacking "terror sites" in Gaza, hours after it said two rockets were launched from the enclave at the Tel Aviv area.
The air attacks were taking place in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, about 25km south of Gaza City.
The rocket fire on Tel Aviv, the first since 2014, marks a significant escalation that raised the likelihood of a harsh Israeli reprisal.
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.
Naftali Bennett, Israeli's security minister, accused Hamas of responsibility.
"It's time to defeat Hamas. It's time to act unilaterally and demilitarise Hamas in order to defend Israeli citizens," said Bennett.
Warplanes could be heard flying overhead in Gaza City, where smoke from the explosions could be seen in the distance.
risingbd/March 15, 2019/Mukul