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Israeli jets and tank strike Gaza after rockets launched at south for second day

Israel's army says two Hamas positions hit in northern Strip, hours after planes bombed 15 targets in the enclave
Flames and smoke are seen during the Israeli air strikes on the central Gaza Strip on Tuesday evening (Reuters)

An Israeli tank hit two Hamas military positions in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday after three rockets were fired at Israel from the besieged enclave minutes earlier, Israel's military said in a statement. 

The Hof Ashkelon Regional Council announced that one of the rockets landed in a greenhouse in one of the communities within its jurisdiction, causing no damage nor injuries, Israel's Haaretz newspaper said.

A second rocket landed in another community within the regional council, with one home damaged lightly by shrapnel, the council's spokesman said.

The army said alerts were activated in Kibbutz Yad Mordechai and in the Netiv Ha'asara community.

Local residents reported hearing explosions, Haaretz said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Israeli warplanes struck Gaza after rockets launched from the Strip late on Tuesday triggered sirens that forced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu off the stage at an election rally in Ashdod.

The Israeli military said 15 targets were hit by the planes, including a weapons manufacturing facility, a naval compound used by militants and tunnels belonging to Hamas, which governs the besieged enclave.

Following the Israeli strikes, Gaza's ministry of health issued a statement on Wednesday saying no casualties had been reported to hospitals in the northern Gaza Strip.

Tuesday's rocket attack happened shortly after Netanyahu announced a plan to annex part of the occupied West Bank if re-elected in a general election on 17 September.

Bodyguards rushed the prime minister to shelter in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod when the sirens sounded during Tuesday evening's rally.

Netanyahu was unhurt and several minutes later he continued his speech, which was broadcast live on social media by his right-wing Likud party.

The Israeli military said two rockets had been fired from the Gaza Strip towards Ashdod and another port city, Ashkelon, just to the south, and were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

It said Wednesday's strikes in Gaza came in response to the rocket launchings, for which there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

'Yet another Israeli crime'

The Palestine Liberation Organisation's secretary general Saeb Erekat said on Tuesday that Netanyahu's annexation announcement should be added to a long history of Israel violating international law, adding that the Jordan Valley is an "integral part of occupied Palestine".

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"Israel's unprecedented culture of impunity, enabled by international inaction, is the only explanation for Mr Netanyahu's audacity in using annexation as an election ploy, and asking the Israeli public to facilitate yet another Israeli crime," Erekat said in a statement.

He further called on the international community to stop Netanyahu from blocking any prospects that could lead to an independent Palestinian state.

Israel seized Gaza in 1967 and pulled out its settlers and troops in 2005. 

It maintains a crippling blockade of the Strip which critics say amounts to collective punishment of the impoverished enclave's two million residents.

Egypt also upholds the siege, restricting movement in and out of Gaza on its border.