A massive wave of rocket fire was directed at southern and central Israel shortly after midnight Saturday night hours after Hamas said it would attack Tel Aviv at 12am.
Sirens sounded in multiple Israeli cities, towns and communities including Tel Aviv, Bat Yam, Holon, Rishon Lezion, Herzilya, Bnei Brak, Lod, Givatayim and Givat Shmuel in the center of the country, and Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gan Yavne, Yad Mordechai, Netivot and Nahal Oz in the south.
The barrage came shortly after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would continue to strike in Gaza as long as necessary and do its utmost to avoid civilian casualties.
The late night barrage was a continuation of rocket fire that had continued in southern and central Israel throughout the day, including a strike on the central city of Ramat Gan that killed a 50-year-old man.
The IDF on Saturday evening bombed the Gaza home of senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya, the deputy to local leader Yahya Sinwar.
Following the strike, the Gaza-based terror group began an hours-long rocket attack on the entire south of Israel, including the communities around the border, Ashkelon and Ashdod.
Al- Hayya's home has already been targeted once before, during the 2014 Gaza war and his son was killed in that attack.
Residents of the south were told to remain in their shelters as the rockets continued with no reprieve.
A residential home in the Eshkol Regional Council sustained a direct hit. The damage to the home was severe but no injuries were reported. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the rocket fire.
The Israeli Air Force also conducted strikes on the homes of two senior Hamas military commanders in charge of the Gaza cities of Khan Yunis and Deir al-Balah, claiming they served as part of the Hamas infrastructure and that their removal would adversely impact the ability of the terror group to carry out military strikes.
The IDF attacks came shortly after rockets were fired at the center of the country, including Tel Aviv and neighboring Ramat Gan where one man was killed.
Rockets also landed in Rishon Lezion, the Arab city of Taibeh, and near Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Earlier an Israeli airstrike destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets. The IDF said the building housed Hamas intelligence, which was using the foreign media outlets operating out of it as cover.
The strike came nearly an hour after the military ordered people to evacuate the building, which also housed Al Jazeera, other offices and residential apartments, bringing down the entire 12-story building down, which collapsed with a gigantic cloud of dust.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State or Israel and Palestinian affairs Hady Amr for Israel and Palestinian affairs, arrived in Israel on Friday and was beginning efforts to bring a return to calm.
First published: 20:06 , 05.15.21