Hamas turns up heat with first ever rocket attack on Jerusalem as pressure mounts on Netanyahu to launch ground invasion

 

Jerusalem

The unfamiliar sound of air raid sirens wailed across Jerusalem last night as, for the first time, militants in Gaza targeted the city that Israelis and Palestinians both claim as their capital.

Israeli jets continued to pound targets across Gaza as its cabinet authorized the mobilisation of up to 75,000 reserve troops for a possible ground campaign – more than doubling the number of potential call-ups approved after the offensive began, and raising the spectre of a possible ground invasion.

Crowds of reservists who had received a "Tzav 8" emergency call-up were seen leaving their cars in makeshift car parks near Gaza and making their way to join their units. In another move that fuelled speculation of a military build up, the Israeli army had earlier closed civilian traffic on three roads that lead to, or border the Gaza Strip.

Earlier in the day, one rocket exploded in Gush Etzion, a West Bank settlement less than 10 miles away from the city centre, according to the local police. Hamas said it had targeted Israel's parliament, the Knesset, and timed the attack to coincide with the start of the Jewish Sabbath on the third day of the latest escalation in violence between the group that controls the Gaza Strip and Israeli forces.

Earlier reports suggested that as many as three rockets had been fired in the direction of Jerusalem, but had missed. Sirens were also heard in the West Bank city of Hebron. The attacks targeting Jerusalem followed more rocket attacks by Gaza militants on southern Israel.

The rockets fired at Jerusalem and other Israeli cities, including the commercial capital, Tel Aviv, followed a ratcheting up of strikes on Gaza by the Israeli military. More than 600 targets in the Palestinian enclave had been hit by last night, up from 225 on Thursday evening.

Meanwhile, sirens sounded repeatedly across southern Israel as more than 70 rockets were aimed at Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beersheba on Friday morning after an overnight lull that ended just before seven o'clock in the morning.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, convened his advisers in the heavily fortified Kirya government compound in Tel Aviv to discuss the escalating crisis. "We did not choose to escalate the situation in the south, it was a decision of the Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the terror groups," Mr Netanyahu said.

"We are ready to expand the operation as necessary in a significant manner." The Mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai, ordered all public bomb shelters opened for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War.

The Israeli Defence Ministry said it would deploy a fifth battery of the Iron Dome missile defence system that has successfully intercepted about 150 rockets since Wednesday. Three soldiers were injured when a mortar bomb hit their vehicle near the border.

Hundreds of people waving Palestinian and black flags demonstrated in the Israeli Arab towns of Umm al-Fahm and Qalansuwa against the Israeli military operation.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?