TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at the Tel Aviv area on Thursday, setting off sirens, the Israeli military said, and several explosions were heard.
TV footage showed what looked like Israeli interceptor missiles streaking into the sky above Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial capital, and detonating.
Despite the apparent activation of Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system, the military said no rockets were shot down. It said there were no reports of casualties or damage.
It was the first time sirens had rung out in the city since the 2014 Gaza war.
About 40 minutes after the alarm went up, traffic was flowing normally on Tel Aviv’s main Ayalon highway.
The military said two rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip and it would provide further details later. Israeli media said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was convening senior military and security officers to evaluate the situation.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility in the Gaza Strip, where its dominant Hamas group was engaged on Thursday in talks with Egypt on a long-term ceasefire with Israel.
Tensions have been high for the past year along the Israel-Gaza frontier since Palestinians began violent protests near Israel’s border fence that have often drawn a lethal response from the Israeli military.
The rocket fire raised speculation in Israel that Palestinian militants opposed to any deal between Hamas and Israel were behind the launchings.
Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahalon said on Twitter that Israel “would respond as necessary” to the rocket attack.
The anniversary of the Gaza border protests is in two weeks, on March 30 and Palestinian groups have been preparing events and march to mark the date.
Around 200 Palestinians have been killed in the demonstrations and about 60 other Palestinians have died in other incidents, including exchanges of fire across the border.
Since the protests began, one Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper along the frontier and another was killed during an undercover raid into Gaza.
Fires caused by Palestinian incendiary devices attached to kites and balloons have set ablaze large areas of Israeli forest and farmland along the Israel-Gaza border.
Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Andrew Heavens