By Worthy News’ George Whitten with additional reporting by Stefan J. Bos
JERUSALEM (Worthy News)— Palestinian militants fired hundreds of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Wednesday, setting off air raid sirens in several cities and prompting evacuations, Worthy News witnessed.
“Alarms were set off in Tel Aviv, and in the cities south of Tel Aviv to the Gaza Strip,” said George Whitten, the founder, and director of Worthy News, who is in the area.
“Last night, many families from [the southern city of] Sderot were moved to the Dead Sea Hotels. This is the first time I heard of an evacuation from Sderot,” added Whitten, who has been living in Israel for years.
Authorities confirmed that an empty home in Sderot was struck.
Whitten added that towns “on the Lebanon border were placed on high alert” and that “schools were closed near Beer Sheva,” the largest city in the Negev desert of southern Israel.
Militants fired the rocket strikes in response to Israeli airstrikes that Palestinian authorities claimed killed 16 Palestinians, including three senior militants and at least 10 civilians.
Israel has long said its rockets target militants and has accused militants of deliberately placing weapons in crowded civilian areas.
However, Israelis were concerned as Wednesday’s rocket fire set off air-raid sirens throughout southern Israel and as far away as the area of Tel Aviv, on the Mediterranean Sea, 80 kilometers (50 miles) away.
Israeli television showed air defense systems intercepting rockets above the skies of Tel Aviv.
Residents had been bracing for an attack since Israel carried out its first airstrikes early Tuesday with evacuations underway, Worthy News established with Whitten urging prayers.
In a move that Palestinians claim could further raise tensions, Israeli police said they would permit “a Jewish ultranationalist” parade next week.
The parade is meant to celebrate Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem and what it regards as “Jewish holy sites” in 1967 when Israel was attacked by a coalition of Arab states in the Six-Day-War.
The parade marches through the heart of the Old City’s Muslim Quarter and has previously led to tensions with local Palestinian residents.
As air raid sirens continued to wail, the army said at least 60 rockets had been fired in less than an hour from Gaza.
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