The Israeli military says one of its Iron Dome anti-missile batteries has intercepted a rocket aimed at the country’s commercial capital.
People huddled along Tel Aviv’s beachfront boardwalk cheered as the rocket apparently detonated in mid-air.
A fifth Iron Dome anti-missile battery was deployed in the Tel Aviv area on Saturday, the army said, underscoring concerns over the range of Palestinian rockets.
The Palestinian militants have launched one rocket at Jerusalem and three at Tel Aviv, the first time the cities have come within range of such strikes since 1970 and 1991 respectively.
Hamas claims it has been launching long-range weapons including Iranian-made Fajr 5 rockets in order to hit targets deep inside Israel.
Israel’s cabinet has authorised the mobilisation of up to 75,000 reservists in preparation for a possible ground invasion of Gaza, which has been ruled by Hamas since 2007.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said: “Yesterday Hamas showed us who they are. They fired a rocket at Jerusalem. They might not have just hit a Jewish neighbourhood – they could very well have hit an Arab neighbourhood.
“They could have hit one of the holy sites for the three great religions. They even could have hit the mosque on the Temple Mount.”
A house in Be’er Tuvia, near the southern Israeli town of Ashdod, was hit by a rocket launched by Hamas on Saturday, causing extensive damage.
There were no injuries as the occupants were in a local synagogue for Sabbath prayers.
Israeli jets bombed Hamas government buildings in Gaza on Saturday, including the prime minister’s office.
The air force said it hit at least 180 targets in all including a police headquarters, government buildings, rocket launching squads and a Hamas training facility in the impoverished territory.
A three-storey house belonging to Hamas official Abu Hassan Salah was also hit and completely destroyed early on Saturday. Rescuers said at least 30 people were pulled from the rubble.
Channel 4 News’s Chief Correspondent Alex Thomson saw Palestinian children with multiple injuries, including a two-year-old girl, following air strikes in Gaza.
Ten people, including eight militants, were killed and dozens were wounded in the various attacks early Saturday, Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said.
In all, 40 Palestinians including 13 civilians and three Israeli civilians have been killed since the Israeli operation began.
Hamas government spokesman Taher Al-Nunu said: “From here, amidst the rubble, we tell the Palestinian people, the Islamic and Arab nation, we are here to flash the victory sign.
“We are here to declare victory. We say the enemy will lose and will not fulfil its aims in this operation.”