TEL AVIV - Agence France Presse
A newly installed battery of Israel's Iron Dome defence system successfully intercepted a Gaza rocket aimed at Tel Aviv Saturday, officials said, as sirens wailed across the city for a third straight day.
The sirens sparked panic, with traffic grinding to a halt and people running for cover, pressing themselves against the sides of buildings in search of shelter, AFP correspondents said.
Israel's Channel 10 television showed live footage of Iron Dome firing twice at the incoming rocket.
"The Fajr 5 heavy rocket that Hamas just launched at Tel Aviv was intercepted by the new fifth battery of Iron Dome," said Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for the prime minister's office, on his official Twitter account.
"No casualties or damage." Hamas militants from the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades confirmed they were behind the rocket fire, saying they had launched an Iranian-built Fajr 5 rocket at Tel Aviv.
It was a baptism of fire for the new defence battery which was only installed in the Tel Aviv region earlier on Saturday in a deployment that was pulled forward by two months in the face of the rocket fire from Gaza where Israel
is pressing a deadly air campaign.
Over the past 72 hours, the Israeli army says militants have fired more than 600 rockets over the border, of which 404 hit and 245 were intercepted by Iron Dome.
There are now five operational batteries of Iron Dome, with the other four based near Beersheva, the coastal cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod and the desert town of Netivot.