Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) militants continue to fire rockets into southern Israel as of 12:45 (local time) on Sunday, May 5. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) aircraft have launched a series of retaliatory strikes into the Gaza Strip, targeting suspected militant positions and launch sites. At approximately 12:45, alarm sirens reportedly went off in Sha’ar Hanegev, Sdot Negev, and Hof Ashkelon regions. Since Saturday, May 4, at least one Israeli citizen and seven Palestinians have been killed in the cross-border engagements. Another 49 people have been wounded in Gaza.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared a “special status” for the areas within 40 km (25 mi) of the Gaza Strip, which provides the government with additional powers to protect civilians. The designation will last for at least 48 hours and can be renewed. An IDF armored division was reportedly deployed into the region earlier on Sunday, and public bomb shelters have been opened in areas as far north as Rishon LeTsion. Schools were closed in cities near the border and further disruptions are possible in the coming days if the situation does not improve.
Further cross-border engagements are likely in 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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