GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Militant groups in Gaza on Wednesday fired a barrage of rockets at Israeli military sites and across the border in response to the assassination of a Hamas military leader.
Israel on Wednesday launched "Operation Pillar of Cloud," killing al-Qassam brigades commander Ahmad al-Jaabari and at least five others including a 7-year-old girl and an 11-month old baby.
Armed factions in Gaza said the assassination was a "declaration of war" and vowed to retaliate.
The al-Qassam brigades said Israel had "opened the gate of hell" and claimed responsibility for firing dozens of mortars at several Israeli military bases and an intelligence base.
The armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Abu Ali Mustafa brigades, said its fighters fired two grad missiles at Beersheva.
Meanwhile, the Popular Resistance Committee's an-Nasser Salah Addin brigades said it fired two homemade projectiles at Nitsvot. PRC spokesman Abu Mujahid said Israel had started a battle by assassinating al-Jaabari.
"Cowardly settlers had better flee to shelters where we will bury them and they will never be able to leave," Abu Mujahid told Ma'an.
The military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for firing two 107 missiles at Beeri settlement, and Islamic Jihad's al-Quds brigades fired a missile at an Israeli military site.
Islamic Jihad spokesman Abu Ahmad said fighters were ordered to "respond fiercely" to the killing of al-Jaabari. He said all militant factions were on a state of alert.
"Israel has declared war on Gaza and they will bear the responsibility for the consequences," Islamic Jihad said.
An Israeli army spokesman could not confirm how many rockets had landed in Israel but said the Iron Dome defensive shield had intercepted 17 projectiles.
Israeli news site Ynet reported that Grad rockets hit a car and shops in Beersheva as well as open areas near Ashdod, among 55 fired into Israel. No injuries have been reported.