Israel bombarded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with about 300 airstrikes today and shot down a Palestinian rocket fired at Tel Aviv, the military said, widening a blistering assault to include the Hamas prime minister's headquarters, a police compound, and a vast network of smuggling tunnels. The Israeli attacks, which Gaza officials say left 12 dead, came as Palestinian militants fired more than 100 rockets toward Israel, including two aimed at the commercial and cultural center of Tel Aviv. Rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem this week mark the first time Gaza militants have managed to fire rockets toward the cities, raising the stakes in the confrontation.
In a psychological boost for the Israelis, a sophisticated Israeli rocket-defense system known as "Iron Dome" knocked down one of the rockets headed toward Tel Aviv, eliciting cheers from relieved residents huddled in fear after air raid sirens sounded in the city. Associated Press video showed a plume of smoke rising from a rocket-defense battery deployed near the city, followed by a burst of light overhead. Police said a second rocket also targeted Tel Aviv. It was not clear where it landed or whether it was shot down. No injuries were reported. It was the third straight day the city was targeted. (Read more Middle East stories.)