Israeli launches Gaza strikes after rockets fired at Tel Aviv

Israeli air strikes hit Gaza after rocket fire three killed

Israeli warplanes on Friday struck about 100 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in response to a rare rocket attack on Tel Aviv.

Witnesses said Hamas forces beat up participants in the protests, causing several injuries, including among children and women, in an attempt to disperse the protesters who set fires ablaze and blocked roads.

The IDF subsequently announced that it had hit about 100 Hamas military targets, including an office complex in Gaza City allegedly used by the group to orchestrate attacks in the occupied West Bank, an underground facility that was the main manufacturing site of standard-grade rockets, and a military training site that served as a centre for unmanned aerial drones.

It was unclear where the two rockets fired toward Tel Aviv landed, but no damage was reported.

Overnight August 8-9, Hamas fires some 180 rockets and mortars from Gaza, according to the Israeli army, which says it responded by targeting 150 of the movement's military sites. But another Israeli military spokesman laid the blame on Hamas on Friday.

Israeli analysts speculated that Palestinian terrorists opposed to any deal between Hamas and Israel were behind the rocket attacks.

A delegation from Egypt, which has acted as mediator between Israel and Hamas, was in Gaza before the strikes and reportedly left after warnings to do so.

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The rockets set off Israel's Iron Dome interceptor missiles, but the IDF has not reported that any of the Hamas rockets were shot down.

The blasts were so powerful that smoke could be seen in Gaza City, 25 kilometers away from some of the strikes.

An explosion was heard in the city centre.

The escalation on Thursday followed a day of unrest in Gaza, where Hamas, the militant group that controls the Palestinian enclave, had forcibly put down demonstrations against deteriorating living conditions. Hamas possesses a big arsenal of rockets and missiles, but it has sought to contain violence with Israel since the last war in 2014. Israel is holding national elections in less than a month. An Israeli-Egyptian blockade, combined with sanctions by the rival Palestinian Authority and mismanagement by the Hamas government, have fueled an economic crisis in the territory. Residents have little desire for another war with Israel. Israel's military said a headquarters of the militant group Hamas was among the targets.

Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon appealed the Security Council to denounce Hamas following the rocket attack on Tel Aviv.

But Israel's military concluded that Hamas was responsible.

Also Friday, a Hamas official said an agreement to restore calm has been reached.

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