Israeli warplanes targeted the southern border fence with Gaza on Thursday, a day after the country’s armed forces warned that its troops were “sitting ducks” and would be in “very high demand” if they were required.
The army announced that its forces were ready to defend themselves, even at the risk of their lives, if necessary.
“It’s the beginning of a process that could lead to the creation of a state of emergency,” the army said in a statement.
It said it had shot down more than 100 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip and hit targets in the southern cities of Khan Yunis and Ashkelon.
Israel, which has a military presence in the Strip, said it has fired dozens of rockets since the war broke out in September.
Israel has been struggling to contain rocket fire since the outbreak of the war.
Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement in Gaza, have fought a two-year war that has killed more than 2,100 Palestinians and 67 Israelis.
Hamas, which is backed by Iran, is also fighting Israel in the war, although it has denied it has been arming the Islamist group.
The Israeli army said it was using the border to “monitor the situation and respond to rocket attacks.”
A spokesman for the Israeli army, Brigadier-General Yoav Mordechai, told Israel Radio that there were “minor” Israeli strikes in the Gaza strip, including a few strikes targeting the coastal strip and in the vicinity of Gaza City, as well as one in the north of the coastal enclave.
The latest rocket fire came after the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for an end to the “violent conflict” between Israel and Gaza.
Netanyahu has said the conflict is being waged by Hamas, an Islamist movement that has ruled the territory for decades.
It is not clear if the rocket fire was an attempt to hit Israeli forces or Hamas targets, which the IDF said was the main target of the rocket barrage.
The Gaza Strip has been under a three-week Israeli blockade and Israeli forces have repeatedly said they will not tolerate attacks from the strip unless Hamas and other militant groups withdraw.
The United States has also urged Israel to ease the blockade, saying it is hurting Israel’s economy.
Israel’s defense minister said on Thursday that Hamas was “preparing to use its army to launch a full-scale offensive” in the Palestinian territory.