GAZA, March 24 (Nidal al-Mughrabi/Reuters) - Israeli aircraft struck targets in the Gaza Strip in the early hours on Thursday, a day after Palestinian militants fired more than a dozen rockets and mortars across the border, striking deep into Israel.
The Islamist group, which controls the territory, said Israel targeted smuggling tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border, as well as one of its training camps in central Gaza.
A third strike hit a power transformer, causing blackouts in the area, witnesses said. Medical workers said no one was injured in the strikes. Hamas said it ordered its personnel to evacuate their positions.
The Israeli military confirmed its aircraft hit a smuggling tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip and a terror activity site in the northern Gaza Strip. It said the strikes were a response to the recent barrage of rockets.
More than a dozen rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza into southern Israel on Wednesday, some reaching the cities of Beersheba and Ashdod, 35 km (20 miles) and 40 km (25 miles) away respectively, the military said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday warned militant groups, who had been increasing the frequency of attacks in recent days, that Israel would act decisively to defend itself.
Violence along the Gaza border has spiked in recent days and a bombing attack on Wednesday in Jerusalem that Israeli police blamed on Palestinian militants killed one woman and injured at least 30 other people.
Hamas later said it sought to end the latest round of violence, which since Tuesday has claimed the lives of nine Palestinians, including four civilians, three of them children.
Netanyahu earlier in the week had threatened a lengthy exchanges of blows with the Palestinian militants, though officials from both sides have said they want to prevent a repeat of Israel's 2009 three-week war in the coastal enclave.
Israel, who launched that campaign with the declared aim of ending the cross-border rocket fire, killed around 1,400 Palestinians, drawing heavy international censure. But Hamas had mostly held fire since.
(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by Jodie Ginsberg)