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By Lawahez Jabari and Yuliya Talmazan
More than 100 rockets were fired from the Gaza strip into southern Israel Saturday, theIsraeli government said. Retaliatory Israeli attacks on Hamas military posts inside the strip killed at least one person and injured several others, according to Gazan authorities.
Earlier, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said more than 50 rockets have been fired in half an hour, of which dozens were intercepted by the country’s Iron Dome aerial defense system.
Air-raid sirens sounded across southern Israel, according to the IDF, sending residents running for bomb shelters.
Palestinian Health Ministry officials in Gaza said one Palestinian was killed and four wounded as the result of Israel’s retaliatory air force strikes on Saturday. Ashraf al Qudra, spokesman for the Health Ministry,said the person killedwas a 22-year-old man.
There were no immediate reports of Israeli casualties.
The IDF said on Twitterthat its tanks had begun to strike Hamas military targets.
Israel Police spokesperson Mickey Rosenfeld said there are heightened security measures in the south and increased patrols in cities after the wave of rockets. He said police bomb disposal experts were responding to rockets that have struck open areas in the south.
Saturday’s missile barrage comes after the IDF said that shots were fired at Israeli troops from southern Gaza on Friday, injuring two soldiers.
In response, an IDF aircraft targeted a military post of Hamas, an Islamic militant group that has ruled over the territory since 2007. Hamas said that two of its members were killed and three were wounded in that strike.
Hamas would “continue to respond to the crimes by the occupation and it will not allow it to shed the blood of our people,” its spokesman Abdel-Latif al-Qanoua said in a statement on Saturday. He made no explicit claim for Hamas having fired the rockets.
Reuters quoted a source in the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying he will convene security chiefs on Saturday to discuss the situation.
Israel and Hamas have managed to avert all-out war for the past five years. Egyptian mediators, credited with brokering a ceasefire after a Hamas rocket attack north of Tel Aviv in March triggered a burst of intense fighting, have been working to prevent any further escalation of hostilities.
Gaza, which is home to around two million Palestinians, has seen its economy suffer after years of blockades as well as recent foreign aid cuts. Unemployment stands at 52 percent, according to the World Bank.
Israel says its blockade is necessary to stop weapons reaching Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel in the past decade.