Israel’s military announced a “state of war alert” on Saturday after militants from Gaza fired a deadly barrage of rockets and sent gunmen into Israeli territory in a major escalation of the long-running conflict between the two sides.

The early morning rocket attack, which the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) described as “massive”, left at least one person dead and multiple wounded.

Hamas, the Palestinian militant movement that runs Gaza, claimed responsibility for the rocket attack and called for a general uprising against Israel.

“If you have a gun, get it out. This is the time to use it—get out with trucks, cars, and axes; today the best and most honourable history starts,” Hamas military commander Muhammad Al-Deif said in a recorded message.

Dubbing the operation “Al-Aqsa Storm,” he said that the group had “targeted the enemy positions, airports, and military positions with 5,000 rockets” and that the assault on Israel was a response to attacks on women, the desecration of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, and the ongoing siege of Gaza.

The IDF warned Israelis who live near Gaza to stay in their homes or head to shelters.

“In the last hour, the Hamas terrorist organisation had begun a massive shooting of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, and terrorists infiltrated into Israeli territory in a number of different locations,” the IDF said in a statement Saturday morning. Sirens warning of incoming rockets continued for at least three hours after the initial barrage.

“The Hamas terrorist organisation is sovereign in the Gaza Strip and is responsible for this attack. It will face the consequences and responsibility for these events,” it added. Foreign Media

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