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.

Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey fans rejoice, series five returns later this month
TV
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Business Development Manager

Salary/Rate: £32,000/annum: M&E Global Resources Ltd: Description/Main Duties ...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Application Support Analyst / Junior SQL Server DBA

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor