Air strike destroys Hamas leader’s office as Israel hits back in Gaza

Israeli forces have struck targets across the Gaza Strip, including the offices of Hamas’s supreme leader, in response to a surprise rocket attack from the Palestinian territory.

The Israeli military bolstered its troops and rocket-defence systems in anticipation of a new round of heavy fighting with the Islamic militant group.

Israel opened public bomb shelters in most major cities and civil defence authorities cancelled sports events and public transportation in southern Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting President Donald Trump. Credit: AP

Ahead of the Israeli air strikes, Hamas’s leadership went into hiding.

Several air strikes rocked Gaza, including an explosion that destroyed the office of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

An earlier blast destroyed a multi-storey building in Gaza City that Israel said had served as a Hamas military intelligence headquarters.

The barrage began as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met President Donald Trump at the White House.

Mr Netanyahu said his country has begun responding "forcefully" to a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip.

Speaking at the White House, he said: “Israel will not tolerate this. I will not tolerate this.

“Israel is responding forcefully to this wanton aggression,” he said. “We will do whatever we must do to defend our people and defend our state.”

Seven people were hurt in the blast. Credit: AP

Spokesperson major Mika Lifshitz said the military has concluded that Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers fired the rocket from one of their launching pads in the southern part of the coastal strip, near Rafah.

Maj Lifshitz said it was a self-manufactured rocket with a range of about 75 miles.

The rocket destroyed a residential home in the farming community of Mishmeret, north of the city of Kfar Saba, wounding six members of a family.

Shoes are seen inside a car near a house hit by a rocket in Mishmeret Credit: AP

The Magen David Adom rescue service said it treated seven people overall, including two women who were moderately wounded. The others, including two children and an infant, had minor wounds.

"It’s a miracle that nobody got killed," said Assi Dvilanski, a paramedic who was one of the first responders at the scene.

Witnesses reported seeing Hamas evacuating its personnel from government premises.

Hamas also announced that its Gaza chief, Yehiya Sinwar, had cancelled a scheduled public speech.

Israel also shut down its main crossings into Gaza and imposed restrictions on fishing off the Gaza coast.

Monday’s attack came 10 days after rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel’s densely populated commercial capital of Tel Aviv.