Netanyahu Warns Gaza as Tel Aviv, Jerusalem under Rocket Fire
Smoke columns rise after an Israeli airstrike over the northern Gaza Strip, sunset 16 November 2012. EPA
Palestinian militants have nearly hit Jerusalem with a rocket for the first time in decades, and fired at Tel Aviv for a second day, in a challenge to Israel's Gaza offensive after an Egyptian bid to broker a truce.
The attacks came just hours after Egypt's prime minister, denouncing what he described as Israeli aggression, visited the Gaza Strip and said Cairo was prepared to mediate.
Israel began bombing Gaza on Wednesday with an attack that killed the Hamas military chief. It says its campaign is in response to Hamas missiles fired on its territory. Hamas stepped up rocket attacks in response.
Israeli police said a rocket fired from Gaza landed in the Jerusalem area, outside the city, on Friday, international media reported.
It was the first Palestinian rocket since 1970 to reach the vicinity of the holy city, which Israel claims as its capital, and was likely to spur an escalation in its three-day old air war against militants in Hamas-run Gaza.
Rockets nearly hit Tel Aviv on Thursday for the first time since Saddam Hussein's Iraq fired them during the 1991 Gulf War. The Jerusalem and Tel Aviv strikes have so far caused no casualties or damage.
"The Israel Defence Forces will continue to hit Hamas hard and are prepared to broaden the action inside Gaza," Netanyahu, signaling a possible ground campaign, said hours earlier.
A Hamas source is quoted as saying that the Israeli air force launched an attack on the house of Hamas's commander for southern Gaza which resulted in the death of two civilians, one a child.
Officials in Gaza said 22 Palestinians had been killed in the enclave since Israel began the air offensive with the declared aim of stemming surges of rocket strikes that have disrupted life in southern Israeli towns.
The Palestinian dead include eight militants and 14 civilians, among them seven children and a pregnant woman. Three Israelis were killed by a rocket on Thursday.
A solidarity visit to Gaza by Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, whose Islamist government is allied with Hamas but also party to a 1979 peace treaty with Israel, had appeared to open a tiny window to emergency peace diplomacy.
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