Hamas launches rocket attack towards Tel Aviv area


Hamas says it has launched a “big” rocket attack at the Tel Aviv area in central Israel.

At least eight rockets were launched from the Rafah area in southern Gaza, the Israeli military said, adding that several were intercepted. No injuries were reported.

The attack – the first time in nearly four months that Hamas has attacked central Israel – comes as Israel carries out a military operation in Rafah, defying a ruling by the UN’s top court.

The barrage of rockets highlights the threat Hamas still poses to people across Israel, as well as the challenges the Israeli army faces as it moves further into southern Gaza to oust Hamas from what it calls its “last major stronghold”.

The attack took place ahead of further ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas, which are expected to resume next week.

The military wing of Hamas, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said it was in response to “the massacre of civilians”.

But by briefly destabilising the relative normality the residents of Tel Aviv – the economic centre of Israel – have been enjoying in recent months, Hamas may be trying to show its strength ahead of the talks – or trying to derail them.

Air raid sirens also sounded in cities including Herzliya and Petah Tikva. The IDF said its Iron Dome anti-missile system had intercepted three of the eight projectiles.

Most of them landed in open areas, but photos published by Israeli media appeared to show minor damage from shrapnel to a home in Herzliya, where an elderly women lived with her caretaker. Police said two people suffered light injuries.

And in Kfar Saba, north of Tel Aviv, a rocket fell on a field, creating a large crater.

Later on Sunday, sirens also rang out in several border villages in the south adjacent to Gaza, including some where residents have returned to live since the Hamas attack on 7 October.

Hamas did not confirm the rockets were launched from Rafah, where fighting has been reported near the Kuwaiti Hospital.

Despite intense international concern, Israel began its offensive in the southern Gaza city about three weeks ago, vowing to destroy what it said were the last Hamas battalions present there.

But the latest rocket attacks are a reminder of Hamas’s military capabilities after seven months of an offensive Israel said aimed to eliminate the group.

War cabinet minister Benny Gantz said the rocket launches showed the need for the military to push ahead with its assault.

The UN says more than 800,000 Palestinians have fled Rafah, an once sprawling city on Gaza’s southern edge. About 1.5 million had been sheltering from the fighting elsewhere in Gaza there.

Israel’s military campaign in Gaza began after gunmen from Hamas attacked Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people and taking 252 others back to Gaza as hostages.

Nearly 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war since then, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.

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