BEERSHEBA, Israel, Feb 23 (Reuters) - A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip
landed in a residential street in the Israeli city of Beersheba
on Wednesday and Israel
responded with air strikes in the Gaza Strip, officials on both sides said.
A rocket launched by militants in the Gaza Strip caused serious damage to houses and cars but no casualties, Beersheba mayor Rubik Danilovich said. Earlier reports said the rocket had struck a house.
One rocket fell, there are no casualties and security forces are in control of the situation, Danilovich told Israel's Channel 1 television.
Residents said they sought shelter in secure rooms after air raid sirens sounded in the area.
Suddenly you see your mother falling on the floor, your living room exploding, glass flying through the air, the living room tearing up, holes in the cupboards high up, the wall around the house full of holes - we still haven't taken it all in, said Orel Atiya, a man in his early twenties.
Israel responded with a number of air strikes late into the night and there was a constant sound of jets flying overhead, Gaza residents said.
An earlier air strike east of Gaza City hit a group of militants from the Islamic Jihad
group, two of whom suffered moderate wounds, Gaza medical workers said.
Local residents in the area said they heard three rockets being launched from the spot where the air strike was aimed.
The Israeli army issued a statement saying an air strike at the launching site had scored a direct hit.
The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli civilians or IDF soldiers, and will continue to respond harshly to terror, the statement said.
Beersheba is a large population centre in southern Israel, about 35 km (20 miles) east of the Gaza Strip. It has not been targeted by militants since the Jewish state's offensive on the coastal territory two years ago.
Palestinian militants mostly fire crude, inaccurate rockets and mortar shells that have a much shorter range and are aimed at areas closer to the Gaza Strip.
Longer range Chinese-made 122mm Grad rockets are launched rarely and in most cases have been aimed at the coastal town of Ashkelon
, about 10km north-east of the Gaza Strip.
The Islamist Hamas group that controls the Gaza Strip and fears a renewed Israeli offensive on the coastal enclave, has urged militants to stop firing rockets and mortar shells at Israel but with only partial success.
Israeli analysts say Hamas is trying to appear less belligerent while allowing other militant groups such as Islamic Jihad to do its bidding.
In action along the Gaza Strip border with Israel earlier in the day, Israeli tank fire killed a Palestinian militant and wounded another and two civilians, medical officials and a militant group said.
The Israeli military said its troops shot at a group of militants after explosives detonated near an Israeli patrol along the frontier, and mortar bombs were fired at the soldiers and into Israel.
Islamic Jihad said two of its members were hit by tank shells after firing a projectile, one of them later died of his wounds.
(Reporting by Ran Tzabar and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Jon Hemming)