Middle East

The Latest: Israel says Gaza rockets fired by mistake

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on Israel-Gaza (all times local):

12:30 p.m.

Israeli defense officials said after a preliminary investigation that the Gaza rockets that hit the Tel Aviv area were apparently fired by mistake.

The officials were quoted Friday in Israeli media. The Israeli military declined to comment on the reports.

It was not immediately clear if the rocket fire was a result of human error or technical malfunction. The Israeli daily Haaretz quoted the officials as saying the two rockets were fired during maintenance work.

The apparent misfire came as Gaza’s Hamas rulers were in negotiations with Egyptian mediators about a truce deal with Israel. The assessment indicated that Hamas had no intention of escalating violence with Israel.

Earlier, the military had held Hamas responsible for the rocket fire at Tel Aviv, the first such attack in five years.


12:10 p.m.

A Hamas official says an agreement to restore calm between Gaza militants and Israel has been reached.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity Friday because the Islamic militant group is yet to announce, said Egypt led meditation efforts “that have apparently paid off.”

After about 7:30 a.m. Friday, there were no reports of outgoing Palestinian rocket attacks or Israeli airstrikes.

In what appeared to be a step to bolster the Egyptian efforts, organizers announced the cancellation of the weekly protests along the Gaza-Israel frontier, an activity that has been going on for a year and has often led to a violence flare-up.


8:00 a.m.

The Israeli military says it struck 100 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip overnight in response to rocket fire.

The army said early Friday that targets included an office complex in Gaza City, an underground complex that served as Hamas’ main rocket-manufacturing site, and a center used for a Hamas drone program.

The airstrikes followed a rare rocket attack on the Israeli metropolis of Tel Aviv late Thursday. Israel says Hamas fired the rockets, though Hamas and a smaller militant group, Islamic Jihad, both denied involvement.

The fighting broke out amid Egyptian efforts to broker an expanded cease-fire deal between the bitter enemies, who last fought a war in 2014.

Several barrages of rocket fire continued during the night.

Photo: Palestinians inspect the damage of destroyed building belongs to Hamas ministry of prisoners hit by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, early Friday, Friday, March 15, 2019. Israeli warplanes attacked militant targets in the southern Gaza Strip early Friday in response to a rare rocket attack on the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, as the sides appeared to be hurtling toward a new round of violence. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

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