Gaza militants fired rockets at both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv today, aiming for the Jewish State’s political and commercial hearts, and prompting Israel to call up thousands more reservists in readiness for a potential ground war.
The Israeli army said it had sealed off all the main roads around the Gaza border, declaring the area a closed military zone, in the latest sign that Israel’s patience with rocket fire was at an end and it was poised to launch its first ground offensive on the territory since 2008-9.
An AFP correspondent reported seeing tanks massed along the frontier, and a steady stream of reservists arriving throughout the day.
The army sought 11th-hour cabinet approval to call up as many as 75,000 reservists, ringing around Ministers at home on the Jewish day of rest which began at sundown, Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser revealed on his official Facebook page.
The military wing of the Islamist Hamas movement which rules Gaza said it fired the rocket at Jerusalem, the first to strike the outskirts of the Holy City in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It marked a major escalation by the territory’s Hamas rulers in the face of a deadly pounding since Wednesday by Israeli aircraft that has killed 28 Gazans and sparked outrage across the Arab and Islamic world.
Neither rocket caused casualties or damage, police said, but they sowed panic in both of the Jewish state’s main population centres, setting off warning sirens and sending people scurrying to shelters.
One hit a Jewish settlement bloc in the occupied West Bank just south of Jerusalem which is home to many commuters.
“A rocket fired from Gaza hit an open area outside of Jerusalem, causing no injuries or damage,” an army spokesman told AFP.