Sirens Wail as Israel Intercepts Rockets Aimed at Tel Aviv
JERUSALEM, Israel - At least two rockets fired from Gaza sent air raid sirens blaring in Tel Aviv Tuesday evening, as residents scattered for shelter.
The CBN News team in Jerusalem also report hearing sirens there, but no rockets have hit the city, according to police.
Both rockets aimed at Tel Aviv were intercepted and destroyed by the Iron Dome anti-missile system, but the threat to Israel's largest population center raises concern among thousands of Israelis who have largely been unaffected by years of previous rocket attacks.
The first missile was intercepted over the city of Rishon LeZion, a Tel Aviv suburb not far from Ben Gurion Airport, Israel's main transportation hub. Residents of Jerusalem report hearing air raid sirens as well.
It was the first rocket to reach the Tel Aviv area since 2012, and is likely to boost activity in Israel's latest assault on terrorist enclaves in Gaza, called Operation Protective Edge.
Israel's Air Force pounded targets in Gaza during the day and into the evening, focusing on rocket launchers and a terror squad which reportedly tried to infiltrate Israel in the area north of Gaza.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for patience from Israelis, saying the operation just underway "may take time."
In a recorded video statement, Netanyahu warned, "from the perspective of the terrorist organizations, all of Israel is part of one front, and all Israeli citizens are targets."
Netanyahu added that his government is taking the military action unwillingly, and only after Hamas escalated the conflict.
He said Israel is "not eager" for battle, "but the security of our citizens and children takes precedence over all else."
Meanwhile, Hamas leaders claim all Israelis are now targets for their missiles. The group vows to step up its rocket volley.
Israeli transport officials caution that the rocket activity may disrupt commercial airline traffic.
The latest rocket attack would be the deepest strike by the terrorist group Hamas since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge against them Monday night.
Watch Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl's report from earlier Tuesday on the launch of Operation Protective Edge.
The goal is to stop the increased rocket attacks Israeli citizens have endured for weeks. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) also called up some of its reservists for the operation.
Over the past few weeks, more than 200 rockets, launched by Islamists in the Gaza Strip, have slammed into southern Israel.
Sirens have been heard in Tel Aviv and near Jerusalem, putting nearly 2 million Israelis in rocket range. The front line of this battle is Gaza City.
CBN News traveled to the Gaza border Tuesday morning where they could see and hear Israeli pilots striking the terror infrastructure embedded in Gaza City. That's where many of the rockets from Hamas have been launched.
For the people living under the shadow of these attacks, it can be terrifying.
"Even when everything seems to be quiet, you have to be ready from your inside that maybe in a couple of minutes you will hear the alarm and then you have 10 minutes -- 10 seconds -- to save your life, to run to a shelter. It's crazy," Shirit Milikovski, with Ambassadors of Tomorrow, told CBN News.
Noam Bedein, CEO of the Sderot Media Center, predicted the situation could escalate.
"We definitely expect this to escalate," Bedein told CBN News earlier Tuesday. "We should be expecting today sirens, I would say, going off in the Tel Aviv region."
Bedein said there's a major difference between the way Hamas fires its rockets and how Israel responds.
"Hamas [terrorists] are firing these rockets toward the civilian populations in the western Negev or Israeli populations in southern Israel," he said. "When Israel tries to retaliate, it uses the most advanced technology and air forces with the purpose to pinpoint that target itself in Gaza, never the population."
Israel's Air Force commander estimates Hamas fired 97 percent of its rockets from population centers.
Israel says its actions are justified.
"At present, with the range of their rockets improving, Hamas has managed to force 1 million Israelis into shelters. The government of Israel will not tolerate that continuing," former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Dore Gold told CBN News.
The U.S. State Department said, "Israel has the right to defend itself, and we certainly support that."
"There is no country in the world that will tolerate even one rocket being fired toward its territory. And the fact [is] that we have endured over 20,000 rockets fired from Gaza toward Israel after giving up the so called land for peace," Bedein said.
From CBN News' vantage point near the Gaza border Monday morning, the crew could watch Hamas fire its rockets and then see the Israeli Air Force strike back. The concern for many is that this is the front lines of what could be a much broader confrontation.