Two Fajr missiles were fired at Tel Aviv from Gaza last night for the first time since 2014. The missiles were not intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system as they landed in uninhabited areas.
Four missiles were later fired towards the city of Sderot in southern Israel and Iron Dome intercepted three of them. While the Israeli army holds Hamas responsible for the missile fire, Hamas and its military wing, the Iz a Din al-Kassam Brigades, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Resistance Committees have denied responsibly for the missile attacks. Hamas and Islamic Jihad quickly vacated their headquarters anticipating Israeli air strikes in response to the missile fire.
Overnight, the Israeli air force hit 100 targets in Gaza, bombing Hamas’s headquarters in Gaza City, an underground missile facility and military posts. There were no reported casualties and the Gaza Health Ministry said that four people suffered light injuries.
Prime Minister and Defence Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held an emergency security meeting in army headquarters in Tel Aviv. Israeli media quoted a senior political source who said decisions were made, without providing any further information. On Friday morning, Israeli defence officials said the missiles were fired towards Tel Aviv by mistake. Low level Hamas operatives are believed to have been responsible and Hamas said it was investigating, vowing to “take measures against those responsible”.
Palestinian factions were meeting with Egyptian mediators when the missiles were fired. Arab media reported during the night that Palestinian organisations had informed Egypt that they would not escalate the situation so long as Israel stopped its aerial attack on the Gaza Strip.
According to Haaretz, Egyptian mediators said a cease-fire took effect at 08:00 local time. This morning Islamic Jihad said it heeded Egypt’s request to maintain calm, but warned that it would cease doing so if Israel resumed attacking Gaza. UN and Egyptian officials were “in contact with all concerned parties, including Israel, to prevent the situation from spinning out of control”.