Fear, mourning, celebration in Gaza City

Story highlights

  • Most shops in Gaza City's center are shuttered and streets are nearly empty
  • A Gaza mosque chant celebrated news a rocket neared Tel Aviv
  • Frequent explosions signal Israeli airstrikes hitting what the IDF calls terror sites
  • Smoke plumes pinpoint where Israel's missile defense system intercepts rockets from Gaza

A mix of explosions filled Gaza City's air late Thursday, but not all were blasts of war.

A celebration erupted as a mosque loudspeaker chant proclaimed: "God is great. We have hit Tel Aviv."

Rockets fired straight upward were not targeted at an enemy, but were aimed at raising spirits with claims that militant missiles launched from Gaza reached Israel's government center 45 miles (71 kilometers) away.

One Gaza-launched rocket landed just south of Tel Aviv Thursday, in an open area near Rishon LeZion, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Rockets pound Israel, Gaza as Netanyahu alleges 'double war crime'

Knowing that air sirens had sounded inside and outside the Israeli Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv apparently gave comfort to some of the Gaza residents who are facing the possibility of another full-scale war with Israel -- four years after the last one.

Blasts interrupt interview in Gaza

    Just Watched

    Blasts interrupt interview in Gaza

Blasts interrupt interview in Gaza 04:37
Are Israeli ground forces moving into Gaza?

    Just Watched

    Are Israeli ground forces moving into Gaza?

Are Israeli ground forces moving into Gaza? 00:59
Israel, Hamas trade shots on Twitter

    Just Watched

    Israel, Hamas trade shots on Twitter

Israel, Hamas trade shots on Twitter 01:50
Rocket fire escalates in Israel, Gaza

    Just Watched

    Rocket fire escalates in Israel, Gaza

Rocket fire escalates in Israel, Gaza 04:04

At least three Israelis were killed and four were wounded when a rocket struck an apartment building in the town of Kiryat Malakhi Thursday, an Israeli police spokesman said.

Under siege inside Israel

The sounds of Gaza also included frequent explosions signaling another Israeli airstrike hitting what the IDF called terror sites, including Hamas weapons, storage bunkers, weapons labs and workshops. The IDF reported it attacked 300 sites by late Thursday.

Eighteen people, including two children, were killed in airstrikes in Gaza Thursday, the health ministry in Gaza said. Of the casualties, nine were Hamas militants, a Hamas source told CNN.

Gaza City is filled with people, 1.6 million Palestinians packed into 139 square miles (360 square kilometers) surrounded and isolated through decades of distrust, anger and occasional war.

Q&A: Gaza strikes could be beginning of ground attack

The main commercial area of the city is usually filled with cars and people, but on this Thursday evening many of the shops were shuttered and the streets were nearly empty. With electrical service still working, the Gaza City skyline was lighted at dusk.

A massive explosion hours after sunset was immediately followed by a power outage and a darkened skyline, illuminated only by other blasts.

Are you there? Share photos, video but stay safe

Tiny plumes of smoke rose on that skyline, pinpointing where Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted rockets from Gaza before the missiles reached the ground. The IDF estimated it stopped about 130 of the 300 fired by Thursday afternoon.

There was a huge gathering of people in Gaza on Thursday. Thousands crammed narrow streets for the funeral of Ahmed al-Jaabari, the popular head of the Hamas military wing killed in an airstrike Wednesday.

Rockets, airstrikes reignite Mideast conflict

      Israel-Gaza conflict

    • iReporter and keen photographer Makandel heard about protests outside the White House in Washington DC over Gaza and arrived to find competing demonstrations between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian supporters.

      Are you in the region? Share photos and video of what you are witnessing, but please do not expose yourself or others to a dangerous situation.
    • Follow CNNArabic for the latest news and analysis from the Middle East and rest of the world.
    • Palestinians celebrate waving Fatah and Hamas flags at the square of the Unknown Soldier in central Gaza City on November 22, 2012. Israeli politicians returned to the campaign trail as the streets of Gaza came back to life after a truce ended eight days of bloodshed, with both sides claiming victory while remaining wary. AFP PHOTO/MARCO LONGARI (Photo credit should read MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)

      Palestinian Authority leaders renewed calls for unity with their Hamas-led rivals after the latest Israel-Gaza conflict, but the fighting may have left Hamas with the upper hand.
    • TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 21: Emergency services respond to the scene of an explosion on a bus with passengers onboard on November 21, 2012 in central Tel Aviv, Israel. At least ten people have been injured in a blast on a bus near military headquarters in what is being described as terrorist attack, which threatens to derail ongoing cease-fire negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian authorities.  (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

      The relentless pace of the Israeli airstrike on Gaza gave the country's military time to make a significant dent in the offensive capability of Hamas, the Israeli military said.
    • Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi (R) and his Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr (L) meet with US Secretary Hillary Clinton at the presidential palace in Cairo on November 21, 2012. Clinton's visit comes amid a flurry of diplomatic activity aimed an bringing an end to the conflict which has killed over 130 people in a week. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)

      However crude the calculation, the winners and losers in the Israel-Gaza conflict are already reshaping political alliances in the Middle East.
    • Palestinians extinguish fire from the car of Ahmaed Jaabari, head of the military wing of the Hamas movement, the Ezzedin Qassam Brigades, after it was hit by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on November 14, 2012.

      What is the group, where did it come from and what does it hope to achieve by its rocket attacks on Israeli targets? CNN explains.