Israel's commercial capital, Tel Aviv, is on alert as air raid alarms have sounded in the city. At least one rocket fired from the Gaza Strip has reportedly targeted the city.
Around 150 rockets were launched by Palestinian militants at Israel on Thursday, killing three people. It appears that at least one rocket had also been launched with Tel Aviv as its target, but the Israeli military has said no rockets hit the ground in the city.
In response, airstrikes against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip from Israel that began on Wednesday continued. The Israeli Defense Force said on its blog site that it had targeted 100 missile launching sites in Gaza on Thursday, and 200 since it launched "Operation Pillar of Defense" on Wednesday.
At least 18 Palestinians have been killed since Wednesday, including women and children.
Top Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari was the first target of Operation Pillar of Defense. It is the biggest military campaign waged by Israel in nearly four years.
"In the past 24 hours, Israel has made it clear that it will not tolerate rocket and missile attacks on its civilians. I hope that Hamas and the other terror organizations in Gaza got the message," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised address on Thursday. "If not, Israel is prepared to take whatever action is necessary to defend our people."
No sign of peace talks
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced Thursday that he had given the army permission to draft up to 30,000 reserve troops, although it remains unclear how many troops might actually be called up.
In a press conference Thursday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Hamas considers "talk of a truce at this time an attempt to provide more cover for the continuation of the escalation."
Allies of the Palestinians and the Israelis continued to weigh in on Thursday, with Egyptian Prime Minister Mohammed Morsi saying he rejected Israel's "aggression," which he said could only lead to instability in the region.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle spoke with his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, from the sidelines of an EU meeting in Paris on Thursday, expressing Germany's support for Israel's right to defend itself.
Westerwelle added that it is now necessary "to focus on de-escalation, and that things go forward in a careful and level-headed manner."
He also cautioned against a new "spiral of violence" in an "exceptionally dangerous situation."
mz/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa)