Rocket Sirens Wail in Tel Aviv Amid Reports of Explosion


The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said on Wednesday, after air raid sirens sounded in Tel Aviv for the first time since summer of 2014, that it had registered launches of two rockets from the Gaza Strip.

This reporter, based on the northern Tel Aviv coastline, heard one large blast following the rocket siren.

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 fire raised speculation in Israel that Palestinian militants opposed to any deal between Hamas and Israel were behind the launchings.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rushed to the military headquarters in Tel Aviv and was conferring with senior army officials about a response.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility in the enclave, where its dominant Hamas group has been engaged in talks with Egypt on a long-term ceasefire with Israel.

"This was basically a surprise", military spokesman Brigadier-General Ronen Manelis told Israel Radio. Similarly, Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai told local broadcaster, cited by AFP, one of the Gaza rockets "apparently fell into the sea, the other hit somewhere but not in Tel Aviv". "It is responsible for what happens within the Strip and what emanates from it".

Sources in the Gaza Strip said that Hamas ordered all its men to abandon their bases and offices in anticipation of an Israeli retaliatory attack.

Hamas has cleared out its positions in Gaza, in expectation of the attack.

In addition to Hamas, Gaza is home to other militant groups.