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Terrorists Launch 90 Rockets at Israel from Gaza, Prompting Air Strikes

Terrorists Launch 90 Rockets at Israel from Gaza, Prompting Air Strikes

Eighteen more have been wounded. Israeli police said a house in the coastal city of Ashkelon was damaged.

In response, the IDF launched air and artillery strikes against 30 Gaza sites belonging to the militant group Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, the BBC reported.

The violence has broken a fragile ceasefire under which Israel and Hamas, Gaza's rulers, were negotiating a truce agreement that the Palestinian movement hoped would see Israeli restrictions on the enclave lifted.

Mladenov also said the flare-up "jeopardizes the significant progress made in recent weeks to relieve the suffering of people in Gaza, lift the closures, and support intra-Palestinian reconciliation".

In a statement, the two groups promised a "broader and more painful" response if Israel "pursues its aggression". "Even as the exchange of fire is worsening, the contacts in Cairo between the Hamas and Islamic Jihad delegations and Egyptian intelligence are becoming more intense", the source said.

Rockets have reached as far as Bet Shemesh, a town 30km from Jerusalem.

Numerous rockets launched were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system.

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Gazan authorities reported a pregnant Palestinian mother and her one-year-old daughter killed in an Israeli strike on Saturday, but an Israeli army spokesman challenged the Palestinian account of the incident.

The aerial assaults on by Israel followed the retaliatory firing of around 90 rockets from Gaza into the "occupied territories" on Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, Israeli helicopters struck targets on Hill 86 east of Khan Younis.

Hamas in a statement said it was "prepared to respond to Israel's crimes" and vowed to stop it from "spilling the blood of our people". The Army's Chief of the Staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi met with senior security officials to assess the situation and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was expected to be briefed in the coming hours. Two other Palestinians protesting near the frontier were also killed by Israeli forces.

The escalation began on Friday, when two Israeli soldiers were wounded by Gaza gunfire near the border.

Among those wounded was a Palestinian journalist who was shot in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet.

The protesters are demanding an end to a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt, and want Palestinians to have the right to return to land their families fled or were forced from during Israel's founding in 1948.