Hamas Launches New 'Al-Aqsa Flood' Military Operation Against Israel
Palestinian militant group Hamas on Saturday declared a new military operation against Israel and fired a barrage of missiles towards the Jewish state from the Gaza Strip for the first time since May last year, which has so far killed one Israeli woman and injured two other people.
As the group claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks, Hamas leader Mohammed al-Deif announced the beginning of the new "Al-Aqsa Flood" military operation against Israel, reports Xinhua news agency.
According to Palestinian security sources, a series of explosions were heard near the separation fence as Israel's Iron Dome system attempted to intercept the incoming rockets.
Locals shared some videos on social media, showing the launching of a number of rockets from various areas in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli army said in a statement that rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip in the last half hour, calling on the Israeli public in the south and centre of the country to remain near the protected areas and comply with the orders of the Home Front Command.
Meanwhile, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant aid Hamas had "made a grave mistake and launched a war" against his country.
"(Israeli) troops are fighting the enemy at every location. The State of Israel will win this war," the BBC quoted Gallant as saying.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it had moved to a war footing and that dozens of fighter jets were carrying out air strikes on Hamas sites in Gaza.
The rocket barrages from the besieged coastal enclave, which is governed by Hamas, began just after dawn on Saturday, at the end of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
As sirens sounded across Israel, the IDF announced that "terrorists" had infiltrated Israeli territory "in a number of different locations".
Footage posted online appeared to show a group of heavily armed Palestinian militants dressed in black fatigues driving around Sderot in a pick-up truck.
In one video, the same militants seemed to be exchanging fire with Israeli forces on the streets of the town, which is only 1.6 km from Gaza.
The rocket barrages meanwhile continued throughout Saturday morning, with Israeli media reporting that more than 2,200 projectiles had so far been launched towards Israel.
An initial report from Israel's Magen David Adom ambulance service said one person had been killed in the rocket attacks and 16 others wounded, two of them seriously. - IANS
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