Three rockets fired from the Gaza Strip Wednesday night exploded near residential buildings in the southern city of Sderot, causing damage to the buildings and to several vehicles as well as cutting off power to several streets in the city, officials said.
Two of the rockets hit residential buildings, causing some damage. Several vehicles were also hit. A third rocket fell inside the city but did not cause damage.
There were no reports of casualties.
Two other rockets fired at around the same time fell in open fields outside the city, security officials said.
Over 20 rockets were fired from Gaza throughout Wednesday, repeatedly setting off warning sirens across the Gaza periphery.
On Wednesday evening Israeli jets struck in the Gaza Strip, hitting a “launching site,” the army said.
The Gaza-Israel border has seen a sharp military escalation in recent days, with Hamas claiming responsibility for several rocket attacks and the Israeli Air Force striking numerous targets in response to the salvos.
The sharp increase in violence in the south has come as tensions flare in the West Bank and inside Israel following the killing of three Israeli teenagers on June 12, the discovery of their bodies on June 30, and the suspected revenge killing of an Arab teen in East Jerusalem on July 2.
Israel’s leaders have blamed Hamas for the three teens’ murders. The two suspected kidnappers, Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme — still at large — are known members of Hamas in Hebron.
Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal has denied his movement’s involvement in the killing, and tried via the Turkish prime minister to dissuade Israel from launching a massive strike on the Gaza Strip, Sky News Arabia reported on Wednesday.
Unnamed sources told the British channel that Mashaal has attempted to convey a message to Israel through the Turks saying that Hamas is uninterested in escalation, and continues to adhere to a ceasefire agreement reached with Israel following Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012. Mashaal also said that “Hamas had no involvement or knowledge” of the teens’ kidnapping and killing.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.