Tel Aviv, May 13: Palestinian militants have now fired more than 1,600 rockets from Gaza at Israel since the latest flare-up of fighting began earlier this week, Israel's military said on Thursday.
Around 400 went down over Gaza, dpa news agency quoted military spokesman Jonathan Conricus as saying. The success rate of Israel's Iron Dome aerial defence system continues to average around 90 per cent at intercepting rockets, he added. Seven people have died in Israel since the rocket launches began on Monday - six civilians and one soldier.
Israel's military has attacked around 600 targets in the Gaza Strip, including rocket production and storage facilities. A tunnel was also targeted that Conricus said was used partially to hide fighters and was built under a school in a populated area. Conricus did not give concrete answers on how much arsenal the Palestinian militants have. They had a very large amount and still have a considerable quantity, he said.
Israel blames Islamist Hamas, the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip, for any attacks from Gaza. The group is classified as a terrorist organization by Israel and the European Union. During the ongoing attacks overnight, there was a direct hit on the town of Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv and five people were taken to hospital with minor injuries, a police spokesman said. The Israeli military said its fighter jets struck Hamas' main bank, one of its naval force squads and counter-intelligence infrastructure overnight.
Dozens have died in the latest flare-up of violence, most of them in Gaza, which has put Hamas and Israel on the brink of an all-out war. The airstrikes and rocket attacks followed violent clashes in recent days at the Jerusalem holy site known as the Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims. The international community has called for a halt to the fighting.
US President Joe Biden condemned the rocket attacks by Hamas and other groups in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday and conveyed support for "Israel's legitimate right to defend itself and its people, while protecting civilians". Later, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and emphasized the need to de-escalate tensions.
Abbas is the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which does not include Hamas. - IANS