The extraordinary scenes captured on camera showed the barrage of projectiles light up the night sky like fireworks as they were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system. One woman was killed in the “unprecedented ” barrage, Israel’s police spokesperson, Mickey Rosenfeld, told The Independent, adding that it struck at the “very heart of Israel”.
“One woman was killed in Rishon LeZion [ just south of Tel Aviv], “ he said adding: “It is one of most intense rocket strikes on Tel Aviv, one of the most serious and largest in years, striking into the very heart of Israel.”
“Security is at the highest alert” he said. Another rocket hit an empty bus in nearby Holon setting it alight, he added.
Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas said it had fired over 130 rockets towards Tel Aviv in response to an Israeli air strike that had flattened a well-known tower block, that houses offices and residential flats. inde
"We are carrying (out) now our promise (by) launching a massive rocket strike against Tel Aviv and its suburbs, with 130 rockets, in response to the enemy's targeting of residential towers,” Hamas's armed wing said in a statement.
The fierce cross border fire between Israel and Hamas has left at least 26 people dead in Gaza, including ten children, and three Israelis including the woman, in Rishon LeZion.
Israel has unleashed airstrikes on Gaza while barraged Israel with hundreds of rockets.
The pace of the rocket attack was so relentless that Israel’s Iron Dome rocket-defence system appeared to be overwhelmed.
In the wealthy residential neighbourhood of Rishon LeZion, security forces and firefighters picked through the clawed out remains of the home where the woman lived. In front of the house was a large crater, and beside that the torched remains of a car that had caught on fire.
There, neighbours told The Independent the woman who died failed to make it to the shelter in time.
“There wasn’t enough time. We were all scrambling to hide, we heard the sirens and then the house and the road shook,” said Koby Richmond, 65 who lives a few doors down. “We have never witnessed anything like this before, the number of rockets, the intensity and size of the rockets, how far north they can go,” his friend Ronen, 55 added.
Since sunset on Monday, 28 Palestinians — including 10 children and a woman— were killed in Gaza, most by airstrikes, health officials there said. The Israeli military said at least 16 of the dead were militants.
Two women were killed by rockets fired from Gaza that hit their homes in the southern city of Ashkelon — the first Israeli deaths in the current violence. At least 10 other Israelis have been wounded since Monday evening.
After those deaths, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said officials decided to "increase both the strength and rate of the strikes" against militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.
Egyptian officials said they were trying to broker a cease-fire, but the cycle of violence was gaining momentum. Even before the Israeli deaths, the Israeli military said it was sending troop reinforcements to the Gaza border, and the defence minister ordered the mobilisation of 5,000 reserve soldiers.
The barrage of rockets and airstrikes was preceded by hours of clashes on Monday between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, including dramatic confrontations at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a sacred site to both Jews and Muslims.
What appeared to be some of the most intense fighting between Israel and Hamas since their 2014 war was sparked by weeks of tensions in contested Jerusalem.
Additional reporting by agencies