Israeli forces and Hamas militants exchanged fire overnight on Wednesday, August 8, and into the early hours of the next morning.
Israeli planes struck dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip and three people were reported killed there, while Palestinian terrorists from the territory fired 150 rockets into Israel in a fierce burst of violence. "The "Iron Dome" aerial defence system intercepted 11 launches, the majority of the rockets hit open areas", the IAF said on its Twitter account.
Israel's rescue service Magen David Adom said seven Israelis, including two men ages 34 and 20, were taken to a hospital for treatment.
In response, Israel responded with tank fire, which provoked a barrage of rocket fire into Israel and further airstrikes in Gaza. Israeli media reported that army officials had later acknowledged a mistake had been made and the militants had not been firing at soldiers, though the military would not confirm that information to AFP.
A senior IDF official asserted Thursday morning that the escalation in the south might lead to a broad campaign in Gaza which would the evacuation of communities along the border.
Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, has confirmed that the soldiers killed a pregnant woman, identified as Enas Mohammad Abu Khammash, 23, and her child Bayan Abu Khammash, 18 months, in their home in al-Ja'farawi area, in Gaza's Central District.
Injuries were also reported on both sides.
The rockets and arson attacks came a day after Hamas announced they would seek revenge for the Israeli military reportedly killing two Hamas snipers.
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"In response to Israel aggression, the Palestinian resistance has launched a large number of rockets in recent hours at the enemy", Hamas said.
Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said his government rejected an European Union plan to link the Gaza Strip with the West Bank by train, the Anadolu Agency reported yesterday.
Former prime minister Ehud Barak says the only way to defeat Hamas is for Israel to re-capture the Gaza Strip, but adds "not even the extremists" in Israel want that. The military said it was "determined to secure the safety of the citizens of Israel and is on high alert and prepared for a wide variety of scenarios".
The last four months have seen an upsurge in violence along the Gaza-Israel border. Hamas said two of its fighters were killed after taking part in a gunfire parade inside a militant camp.
The flare-up comes as Egypt is trying to broker a long-term ceasefire between the two sides.
Gaza has been controlled by Hamas for more than a decade, during which time it has fought three wars against Israel, most recently in 2014. "If the current escalation however is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people".