New Zealand government condemns Gaza rocket attacks on Israel

The New Zealand Government is condemning recent rocket attacks from Palestine against Israel.

On Tuesday (local time), an Israeli airstrike killed Baha Abu al-Ata, a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza. His wife was also killed.

In retaliation, Gaza militants fired almost 200 rockets at Israel. Forty-seven Israelis were wounded, according to the country's emergency medical services.

Now the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs has weighed in with a response on Twitter.

"We are deeply concerned about the firing of rockets from Gaza to Israel. Targeting civilian populations is unacceptable and we condemn these attacks," it said.

"New Zealand urges all parties on the ground to avoid confrontation and exercise maximum restraint."

Abu al-Ata was killed in a joint operation carried out by the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service.

In Tel Aviv, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described Abu al-Ata as a "ticking bomb" who was responsible for a string of recent rocket, drone and sniper attacks and was suspected of planning more soon.

"Israel is not interested in escalation, but we will do everything required to defend ourselves," Netanyahu said.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad - labelled a terrorist organisation by New Zealand - said Abu al-Ata was killed during "a heroic action" and vowed revenge.

"Our inevitable retaliation will rock the Zionist entity," it said, referring to Israel.

Hamas said Israel "bears full responsibility for all consequences of this escalation", and pledged that Abu al-Ata's death "will not go unpunished".

Shortly after his death, air raid sirens sounded across Israel as dozens of rockets were launched across the Gaza-Israel border.

"The barrage of rockets being fired by Islamic Jihad in #Gaza at Israeli civilians after our surgical strike on their commander shows exactly why he was targeted in the first place," the Israel Defense Forces said on Twitter.