Netanyahu was hustled off stage when sirens warning of incoming rockets blared in the southern city of Ashdod late Tuesday, public television reported.

Flame and smoke are seen during an Israeli air strike in the central Gaza Strip September 11, 2019
Flame and smoke are seen during an Israeli air strike in the central Gaza Strip September 11, 2019 (Reuters)

Israel bombed Hamas positions in Gaza overnight in retaliation for rocket fire across the border, which cut short an election rally by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the military said Wednesday.

Netanyahu was hustled off stage when sirens warning of incoming rockets blared in the southern city of Ashdod late Tuesday, public television reported.

It came just hours after the premier pledged to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank if re-elected.

Israeli fighter jets hit 15 targets in the north and centre of the Gaza Strip, including a weapons factory, an attack tunnel and naval targets, the army said.

It said it would "continue to hold Hamas responsible for everything that comes from the Gaza Strip," regardless of who actually fired the weapons.

Israel seized Gaza in a 1967 war and pulled out its settlers and troops in 2005. It maintains a naval blockade of the enclave and along with Egypt imposes tight restriction s at land borders, citing security concerns.

Hamas and Israel have fought three wars in the past decade. 

Both rockets fired from Gaza were shot down by Israel's Iron Dome air defence system.

Video posted on WhatsApp by Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party showed him returning to the stage after the all-clear and saying that Hamas was scared of him winning next Tuesday's general election.

"If it attacks us on live TV, you understand that it doesn't want us here," he told his audience.

Source: AFP