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Barrage of Rockets Strikes Israel as Bomb Shelters Ordered Open

August 20, 2014 By:
JTA
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Smoke billows following an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern of Gaza Strip, on Aug. 19, 2014. Israel ordered its negotiators back from talks in Cairo and Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza following rockets being fired by Gaza militants into Israel. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.

JERUSALEM — Hamas claimed responsibility for a barrage of rockets fired on southern and central Israel, including Tel Aviv.

More than two dozen rockets were fired fr0m the Gaza Strip between the hours of 10 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, and 30 more were fired on Wednesday morning.

During the first barrage, two rockets landed in an empty area in the greater Tel Aviv area, according to the Israel Defense Forces, and at least two were reported intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. At least four rockets landed in Beersheba and three in Sderot.

Iron Dome intercepted at least one rocket over Jerusalem, Israel’s Channel 2 reported. A Code Red warning was heard in Beit Shemesh, located west of Jerusalem.

Rockets were fired from Gaza beginning on Tuesday afternoon in contravention of a 24-hour cease-fire extension agreed to late Monday night just as a five-day cease-fire was expiring.

An IDF spokesperson declined to comment on reports that the army had targeted Muhammed Deif, Hamas' commander, in a strike that allegedly killed his wife and daughter.

Earlier Tuesday evening, a rocket struck a shopping center near Ashkelon, causing damage, according to Israel’s Channel 2.

Israel has retaliated with airstrikes on Gaza. At least one child was reported killed in the strikes, according to the Palestinian Maan news agency.

Also Tuesday night, the Israeli military ordered communities up to 50 miles away from the Gaza border to open public bomb shelters in light of the restarted rocket fire.

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday afternoon confirmed that rockets had been fired from Gaza, violating the cease-fire, and reaffirmed that Hamas has “security responsibility” for Gaza.

“We are very concerned about the developments in Gaza and condemn the rocket fire today and support Israel’s right to defend itself,” State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.”We call for immediate end to hostilities and rocket fire and we call on the parties to go back to talks on cease-fire.”

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