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Israel strikes targets in Gaza Strip, 3 killed

Israel strikes targets in Gaza Strip, 3 killed

It was not clear if the escalation, the latest in a series of intense exchanges of fire in recent months, would derail the indirect negotiations between Israel and Gaza's Hamas militant rulers.

Separately, The Times grossly misrepresents Hamas' ongoing rocket attacks against the Gaza envelope communities with the following claim: "Palestinian fire was mostly calibrated to hit border areas rather than population centers".

Israel has also been battling nearly daily airborne arson attacks from Gaza caused by kites and balloons rigged with incendiary devices flown across the border that have sparked large fires that destroyed forests, burned crops and killed wildlife and livestock.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that more than 180 rockets and mortars were launched from Gaza toward Israel, sparking rocket alarms in the country.

But the continued outbursts of fire have jeopardized those cease-fire efforts.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted an unnamed senior Israeli commander as saying that the military is "nearing launching an operation in the Gaza Strip" if the current situation persists. At least three Palestinians died - a pregnant woman, her 1-year-old daughter and a Hamas militant.

The incident occurred while a group of senior Hamas leaders from overseas were visiting Gaza to discuss the ceases-fire efforts with local leaders.

Kamal Khamash, brother-in-law of the killed woman, said the family was asleep when the projectile hit the house.




"As we approach a potential agreement, it's extremely important for Hamas to deliver the message that we are not going there because we are weak", said Yossi Kuperwasser, a retired brigadier general and the former director general of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs. The military said it intercepted some 25 rockets, while most of the others landed in open areas.

"The deliberate targeting of a cultural centre with airstrikes and destruction.is a barbaric act", said Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesman.

Israeli Cabinet minister for construction and housing, Yoav Gallant, said that "whatever is needed to be done to defend our civilians and soldiers, will be done, no matter what would be the price in Gaza".

Angry that major media outlets are highlighting the fact that its latest wave of bombings killed a pregnant woman and her young child, the Israeli government has begun openly pressuring news outlets that dare to report its war crimes accurately.

"We need an end to this", said Salwa Masry, 44, a mother of five who lives west of Gaza City.

UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said the United Nations had engaged with Egypt in an "unprecedented effort" to avoid serious conflict, but cautioned that "the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people". Hamas militants responded with a cross-border fusillade that sent Israelis scrambling for air raid shelters.

"Factions of the resistance consider this round of escalation over as far as we are concerned, and the continuation of calm depends on the behaviour of the occupation", the Palestinian official said, using militant groups' term for Israel. The protests have been aimed in part at trying to break the blockade. The Palestinian Health Ministry says seven bystanders were wounded in Thursday evening's airstrike in the Shati refugee camp.

Rocket warning sirens sounded nearly non-stop in the southern Israeli towns and border communities near Gaza from sunset on Wednesday.