JERUSALEM– Almost 100 rockets have been launched into Israel from Gaza prompting the Israeli army to retaliate with airstrikes.
According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, a Palestinian man was killed and six others injured in the strikes.
Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qedra identified the man killed in the northern part of the coastal enclave as Mohamed Nasser, 22, while the Islamist Hamas movement said he had been one of its members.
Meanwhile the Israeli army said in a statement that fighter jets and tanks were launching strikes on Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza, adding over 10 bases had been targeted so far.
Sirens rang out in Israeli communities near the border with Gaza warning residents to rush to shelters.
Dozens of projectiles coming from the coastal enclave have been intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system.
One of the rockets directly hit a house in the Ashkelon Regional Council, causing material damage as the residents of the house managed to make their way to a safe zone after sirens rang out, police said.
There was police presence and heightened security in the southern part of the country.
The heavy rocket barrage began around 10am, a day after four Palestinians, including two Hamas militants, were killed and two Israeli soldiers were injured in clashes with Israeli forces along the border fence on Friday.
The clashes came during the weekly Gaza-Israel border protests.
The escalation comes after delegations from Hamas and Islamic Jihad flew to Egypt on Friday to negotiate an Israel-Hamas ceasefire following the most recent upsurge in violence at the end of March.
Hamas spokesman Abdullatif Al-Qanou’ said that the current understandings for calm “will not be a barrier to responding to the aggression of occupation.”
“The blood of our people is a red line that cannot be crossed,” he added.
The Islamic Jihad, the second-most powerful organization in Gaza, threatened to deprive Israel of the opportunity of “successfully holding any festival that targets the Palestinian narrative,» ahead the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest set to take place in Tel Aviv on May 14.
Hamas is classified by the European Union, Israel and the United States as a terrorist organization.