BREAKING NOW: Rockets Fired Towards Tel Aviv, Missiles Intercepted by Israeli Defenses

Smoke and flames are seen during an Israeli air attack on Gaza on Friday

According to IDF reports, two rockets were launched on Thursday evening from Gaza, a coastal enclave to Israel's south ruled by the Hamas terror group. But it marked the first time that Tel Aviv, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Gaza, has been targeted by rocket fire since a 2014 war with Gaza militants. One was reported to have been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system while another one is said to have fallen in open territory.

Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad - the two largest terrorist organizations in Gaza - denied responsibility.

The rocket fire raised speculation in Israel that Palestinian militants opposed to any deal between Hamas and Israel were behind the launchings.

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US President Donald Trump's special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process Jason Greenblatt on Thursday strongly condemned the rocket fire on the Tel Aviv area, and stressed the administration's "strong support" for Israel.

Hamas and PIJ told Egyptian security officials who were in the Strip to discuss a long-term truce that they were not responsible for the rockets, Al-Jazeera reported.

The Israeli military said early Friday the country has launched airstrikes on "terror sites in Gaza", hours after rockets were fired on Tel Aviv. "It is responsible for what happens within the Strip and what emanates from it".

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The Tel Aviv skyline at night.

Naftali Bennett, a member of Netanyahu's security cabinet who is vying with him for rightist-votes in the looming ballot, issued a statement demanding the assassination of Hamas chiefs.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said he had ordered the city to open public air raid shelters as a protective measure. "It's time to defeat Hamas, it's time to demilitarize the Gaza Strip", he said.

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The new wave of escalation near Israel's border with Gaza began last March, when Palestinian protests, dubbed the Great March of Return, kicked off.

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