Palestinian militants have fired dozens of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, in a first response to ongoing Israeli airstrikes that have killed 19 Palestinians, including three senior militants and at least 10 civilians.
The rocket fire set off air-raid sirens throughout southern Israel and as far away as the Tel Aviv area, on the Mediterranean Sea, 50 miles away.
Residents had been braced for an attack since Israel carried out its first airstrikes early on Tuesday.
Israeli TV stations showed air defence systems intercepting rockets above the skies of Tel Aviv. In the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, people lay face-down on the ground as they took cover during one attack.
The parade, meant to celebrate Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem and its Jewish holy sites, marches through the heart of the Old City’s Muslim Quarter and often leads to friction with local Palestinian residents.
As air-raid sirens continued to wail, Israeli media said at least 100 rockets had been fired.
Israeli rescuers said two people had been hurt running for shelter, and local officials said an empty home in the southern town of Sderot had been struck.
Throughout the day, Israeli aircraft hit targets in Gaza for the second consecutive day, killing at least three Palestinians.
The Israeli military said its attacks were focused on Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant infrastructure in the coastal enclave.
The army said one airstrike targeted militants traveling to a rocket launcher site in southern Gaza Strip.
Medics said the strike killed one man and seriously wounded another. Later on Wednesday, another airstrike killed a Palestinian in northern Gaza and two Palestinians in the southern city of Rafah. Palestinian officials could not confirm whether the targets were militants.
It also remained unclear whether two Palestinians killed in a separate airstrike late on Tuesday were militants or civilians. Israel has claimed the men were preparing to fire anti-tank missiles.
The Israeli military had instructed residents of southern Israel to remain near bomb shelters, and schools remained closed for a second day as a precaution against rocket attacks.
Israel said it was trying to avoid conflict with Hamas, the more powerful militant group that rules Gaza, and confine the fighting to Islamic Jihad.
“Our actions are meant to prevent further escalation,” Rear Admiral Danny Hagari, the Israeli military’s chief spokesman, said.
“Israel is not interested in war.”
Israel has been conducting near-daily military raids in the occupied West Bank for over a year to detain suspected Palestinian militants, including many from Islamic Jihad. The northern West Bank city of Jenin and surrounding areas have been the frequent target of such raids as it has emerged as a hub of Palestinian militant activity.
Israel said the raids in the West Bank were meant to dismantle militant networks and prevent future attacks.
At least 107 Palestinians, around half of them militants, have been killed by Israeli fire in the occupied West Bank since the start of 2023, according to an Associated Press tally. At least 20 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis.
Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza in the 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians seek all three areas for a future state.