Tel Aviv: Hundreds of rockets were fired upon Israel from Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip throughout May 11 as Israel pummeled the tiny coastal territory with airstrikes and the death toll mounted on both sides.
The cross-border violence, which erupted after weeks of rising tensions in the contested city of Jerusalem, is the worst the region has experienced in years.
More than two dozen Palestinians have been killed in the last day, including several children. Three Israelis died from Gaza rocket fire, news reports said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the attacks on Gaza, which have targeted some 500 Hamas and Islamic Jihad positions since May 10, would intensify.
Hamas, which rules the coastal strip, would “receive blows it did not expect,” Netanyahu had said hours earlier in remarks after a meeting with military officials.
An Israeli military spokesperson said that at least 20 members from the two groups have been killed so far in Gaza, including senior officials, and some 150 missile-launchers had been destroyed.
The greater Tel Aviv area was in the cross-hairs of Palestinian militants, who sent a barrage of rockets towards the coastal metropolis, marking the heaviest attack the city has faced so far.
Netanyahu declared a state of emergency in Lod as intense rioting erupted in the Arab-Jewish city.
The Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv was closed to landings and departures due to the attacks; flights were diverted to Cyprus.
In total, Gaza militants aimed around 480 rockets towards Israel over 24 hours. Of these, some 200 were intercepted and 150 failed to properly launch, the Israeli military said Tuesday evening.
The Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility for the attacks, which it said were in retaliation for a deadly Israeli strike on a high-rise residential building in the western part of the Gaza Strip.
In total, the Gaza Health Ministry put the death toll in the latest round of violence at 28, including 10 children. More than 100 people were injured, it said.
The airstrikes and rocket attacks followed violent clashes in recent days at Jerusalem’s holy site known as the Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims.
Netanyahu said the militants crossed a “red line” by directing missiles towards Jerusalem, and Israel in turn shelled targets in Gaza.
Leaders around the world expressed concern about the escalating violence, calling on both sides to show restraint.