Residents of Tel Aviv and the towns that surround it heard the sound of rocket alert sirens on Thursday evening after two missiles were launched from Gaza. Videos posted online by locals showed empty streets and captured the blare of "code red" sirens, used to warn of imminent attacks.
One of the rockets was reportedly intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system, while the other fell in an open field. It said one of the rockets landed in an uninhabited area, and that there were no reports of injuries. But it marked the first time that Tel Aviv, some 80 kilometres north of Gaza, has been targeted by rocket fire since a 2014 war with Gaza militants. But it rattled Israeli nerves ahead of an April 9 election in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking a fifth term on the strength of his national security and diplomatic credentials.
Hamas denied involvement for the rocket salvo, which it said took place as its leaders met Egyptian delegates about efforts to secure a long-term ceasefire with Israel.
"The Hamas organization is the main organization in the Strip", chief military spokesman Brigadier-General Ronen Manelis told Israel Radio, according to the Reuters news agency.
Sources in the Gaza Strip said that Hamas ordered all its men to abandon their bases and offices in anticipation of an Israeli retaliatory attack.
"The two Fajr-5 rockets were fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza, the second strongest group in the coastal enclave after Hamas".
Earlier this week, Israel struck Hamas targets in Gaza in response to rocket fire on southern Israel, near the border. The Hamas administration vowed to "take measures" against those behind the salvo, which it described as violating the "factional and national consensus" governing Gaza.
Earlier, Islamic Jihad criticized Hamas for using force to disperse demonstrations protesting the bad economic conditions in the Gaza Strip. Two Israeli soldiers have been killed by Palestinian fire.