"Heavy barrage of rockets fired from Gaza by Islamic Jihad" since this morning, have sent "more than a million Israelis to seek shelter and causing injuries and damage to properties", the Israeli foreign ministry wrote on its twitter page on Tuesday.
Israeli media, including Times of Israel, also reported that the Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday ordered schools closed in Southern and Central Israel, including the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, after Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip began firing dozens of rockets at cities and towns in retaliation for the assassination of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad senior commander Baha Abul Ata.
Approximately 150 rockets and mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip at Central and Southern Israel on Tuesday as of 1 p.m., according to Israel's channel 2.
Soldiers operating the Iron Dome missile defense system allegedly shot down only 60 of those incoming projectiles.
The IDF Home Front Command ordered all schools and non-essential businesses closed in the following areas: the Gaza periphery; the Lachish region; the Western Negev; the central Negev; and the Shfela region. The IDF also forbade gatherings of more than 100 people, the Times of Israel reported.
Schools were also closed in the Dan region, including Tel Aviv, and in the Yarkon region. Businesses were temporarily ordered shut there as well, but were allowed to reopen on Tuesday morning, providing there was a bomb shelter nearby, the military said. In the Dan and Yarkon regions, the IDF forbade all public gatherings of more than 300 people.
It was the first time that the IDF ordered a closure of schools and businesses in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area since the 2014 Gaza war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge.
Rocket attacks began shortly after the killing of Abu al-Ata early Tuesday morning, most of them focused on Israeli towns and cities surrounding the Northern Gaza Strip. Shortly after 7 a.m., rocket sirens sounded in the Tel Aviv suburbs of Rishon Lezion and Holon. An hour later, sirens blared in the Southern neighborhoods of Tel Aviv and in the nearby suburbs of Bat Yam and Holon.
At approximately 10:30 a.m., rocket sirens were triggered in the Central Israeli town of Modi’in, halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Several rockets also struck the town of Sderot, Northeast of the Gaza Strip; one hit the city of Ashdod, damaging a car; and one struck a street in the Central Israeli city of Rishon Lezion.
A mortar shell fired from the Gaza Strip landed in an open field in the Sha’ar Hanegev region of Southern Israel, sparking a fire, a regional spokesperson said.
Firefighters were called to the scene to put out the blaze.
Hospitals and other emergency services were put on high alert in light of the ongoing rocket attacks.
At approximately 4 a.m. Tuesday, an Israeli air raid at dawn Tuesday martyred Bahaa Abul Ata, 42-year-old prominent commander in the Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad Movement, and his wife in Shejaiya area in Eastern Gaza.
Shortly after the Israeli regime killed a top Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza, Palestinians launched a salvo of rockets into the occupied territories, forcing hundreds of tourists to cut short their journey and return to their homelands for their lives.
Ben Gurion Airport is full of tourists planning to leave the occupied territories as some 150 rockets had been fired from Gaza into the occupied lands in retaliatory operations after the Israeli regime carrying out the airstrikes on the besieged enclave, according to reports.
Another strike on a Damascus home belonging to an Islamic Jihad official killed the man’s son, in what appears to be part of an Israeli operation to assassinate leaders of the Palestinian resistance group in Gaza and Syria. The Islamic Jihad issued a statement on Tuesday confirming the attack, identifying the official as Akram al-Ajouri, member of the group's political bureau.
The al-Quds Brigades and the Hamas resistance movement vowed a major response to Abul Ata’s assassination by the Tel Aviv regime, which was the first such attempt since the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza.
The armed wing of the Jihad Movement stated that Abul Ata was killed in a “cowardly assassination attempt. It promised an “earthshaking reprisal”, adding that the “criminal enemy will bear the responsibility for the results of such aggression”.
The Hamas Movement has also mourned Abul Ata, stressing that the Israeli crime will not go unpunished.
In a statement, Hamas held the Israeli occupation fully responsible for all the consequences resulting from such military escalation, affirming that the assassination of Abul Ata would be retaliated.
Gaza has been under Israel’s all-out siege since 2007 and witnessed three wars since 2008. Tel Aviv seven-week-long war in 2014 and two other military operations over the last six years have caused economic losses close to three times the size of Gaza's gross domestic product. The latest onslaught claimed the lives of over 2,200 Palestinians and left over half a million more displaced, with another 11,000 injured in the assault. It also severely damaged more than 20,000 homes, 148 schools, 15 hospitals, and 45 clinics. At least 247 factories and 300 commercial centers were rendered inoperable or totally destroyed in the attack.