2 rockets fired on Israel, Gaza braces for reprisal

Iron Dome missiles intercept rockets from Gaza seen in the sky in Southern Israel Nov. 12 2018

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

It wasn't immediately clear which group in Gaza was responsible for the surprise rocket fire, which occurred on the eve of weekly Hamas-spurred Friday mass rallies and riots along the Strip's border.

The newspaper said the Iron Dome defense system was activated and intercepted the missiles. It said there were no reports of casualties or damage.

The rocket barrage triggered air raid sirens across the city, which is Israel's densely populated commercial and cultural capital.

Israeli journalist Barak Ravid, citing an unidentified Israeli official, said the Palestinian faction Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, did not fire the rockets.

Militants in Palestine opposed to any deal between Israel and Hamas are believed to be behind the missile launches.

"Hamas violently suppresses its own people demonstrating against Hamas' rule & failures today and NOW fires rockets at cities in Israel". The Hamas administration vowed to "take measures" against those behind the salvo, which it described as violating the "factional and national consensus" governing Gaza.

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Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai urged the public to remain calm, but added that public bomb shelters would be opened shortly. "It's time to defeat Hamas, it's time to demilitarize the Gaza Strip", he said. They include Salafists inspired by the Islamic State group, as well as Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed armed organization that also possesses a formidable rocket arsenal.

That was echoed by US President Donald Trump's special representative for Middle East negotiations, who only minutes after the first reports were issued on Thursday said Hamas was responsible.

The apparent rocket fire came in response to Israeli airstrikes, launched after an early rocket attack on Tel Aviv.

Among those participating were Chief-of-Staff Lt. -Gen Aviv Kochavi, National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) head Nadav Argaman, and other senior security establishment officials.

"I'd suggest to Hamas - don't count on it".

This marked the first rocket attack on Tel Aviv since the summer of 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, when the city was targeted repeatedly by Palestinian terror groups in Gaza. "We'll do whatever is necessary to return the peace and quiet to the Gaza border communities, and the entire south".

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