Militants in the Gaza Strip have fired at least 220 rockets at Israeli territory on Saturday, May 4, wounding at least two Israelis in Ashkelon and Kiryat Gat. Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system has intercepted dozens of the rockets, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), as rocket sirens continue to blare in Gaza-adjacent Israeli communities as of Saturday evening (local time). The IDF has launched a series of retaliatory strikes on some 120 suspected Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) targets in the Gaza Strip, killing at least two Palestinians. The Israeli Defense Ministry has also announced the closure of the Erez and Kerem Shalom border crossings due to the cross-border violence and has closed the fishing zone off the Gazan coast; such closures are reportedly in effect until further notice.
School will be canceled in Israeli cities and towns near the Gaza Strip, notably including Ashkelon, on Sunday, May 5, due to the cross-border violence. Israeli places of work in areas near the Israeli-Gazan border will also only be allowed to open if they are equipped with a bomb shelter; gatherings of over 300 people have been prohibited.
Additional cross-border exchanges of fire are likely over the Israeli-Gazan border over the coming hours.
This flare-up in tensions comes after a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) sniper firing from the Gazan side of the Israeli-Gazan border wounded two Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops on the Israeli side on May 3. Israeli forces retaliated by launching an airstrike, killing two Hamas militants; Israeli troops also reportedly killed two Palestinian protesters participating in the weekly Friday demonstrations - part of the "Great March of Return" movement - along the Israeli-Gazan border.
In general, rocket fire and strikes between Israel and the Gaza Strip have intensified since early December 2017. Hundreds of rockets and mortars have been fired from the Gaza Strip, often followed by retaliatory Israeli airstrikes.
Individuals present in Israel and the Palestinian Territories are advised to monitor developments to the situation and seek immediate shelter in the event of a rocket attack.
Due to the underlying terrorist threat, travelers in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip are advised to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities. Some Western governments advise their citizens against all travel to the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and areas near the Israeli-Lebanese, Israeli-Syrian, and Israeli-Egyptian borders.
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