1st LD: Israeli warplanes strike Gaza militant facilities in response to rocket attacks

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GAZA, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Israeli warplanes carried out early Friday intensive air strikes on Gaza Strip military targets in response to two rockets fired from the coastal enclave into Tel Aviv in central Israel on Thursday night, said security officials and eyewitnesses.

Israeli drones, helicopters, and F16 war jets hovered over Gaza Strip right after Israeli media on Thursday reported the rocket attacks, which caused no damage or injuries, they said. It was the first time that rockets were launched at Tel Aviv since Israel's military operation in Gaza Strip in 2014.

Eyewitnesses said several powerful explosions were heard in southern Gaza Strip and in Gaza city's southern suburbs. According to security officials, several military facilities were targeted and no injuries reported.

Israeli air forces warplanes have been carrying out air strikes on military facilities in Gaza Strip in response to the rockets fired from Gaza into Tel Aviv, said an Israeli army spokesman in a press statement.

No one has claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks.

In Gaza, Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Hamas movement which rules Gaza Strip, said in a short text message sent to reporters that it "is not responsible for the rockets that were launched tonight towards the enemy."

"The rockets were launched during a meeting held in Gaza between the leadership of Islamic Hamas movement and the Egyptian security delegation on the calm understanding related to the Gaza Strip," the militant group added.

Islamic Jihad spokesman Dawood Shihab also denied in a press statement an Israeli media report which claimed that his group was responsible for launching the two rockets into Israel.

The Hamas-run Ministry of Interior and National Security said in an emailed press statement that it followed the incident of firing rockets from the Gaza Strip.

"Firing the rockets from Gaza Strip is outside the factional and national consensus," said the statement, adding that "the interior ministry will take its measures against the violators."

Palestinian security officials on Thursday said the senior Egyptian security intelligence delegation that arrived in Gaza early on Thursday had left the coastal enclave and headed back to Israel after the rocket attacks.

The Egyptian delegation had held talks with Hamas leaders earlier in Gaza on enforcing an Egyptian-brokered calm understanding that was reached between Hamas and Israel in November 2018, said the officials. Enditem

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