Israeli Airstrikes Hit Gaza After Hamas Launches Rocket Attacks

A Military Police car blocks a road leading to Zikim beach after it was closed to visitors due to escalating rocket fire from the Gaza Strip toward southern Israel

Talk of a long-term ceasefire in he Gaza Strip seems to be forgotten today, as Israel and Hamas continued tit-for-tat escalations throughout the day, with 150 rockets fired at southern Israel, and Israeli warplanes striking over 100 targets inside Gaza.

While Israel's main news channels decided Wednesday night to continue broadcasting regular content (at one point a report from a house in Sderot that had been damaged by rocket fire was cut short so the program could return to a segment on tomatoes), by Thursday morning there seems to be a recognition that this barrage may not be just another flareup.

"If it becomes necessary, the residents of the Gaza border communities will be evacuated", he said.

Israel's military says it struck several Hamas targets in Gaza.

A Hamas militant was also killed in one of the strikes, while at least 12 people in Gaza were reportedly injured, health officials said.

Israel and Hamas have reached a ceasefire agreement brokered by Egypt Thursday night that went into effect at 10:45pm, Al Jazeera reported.

Meanwhile, Palestinian media is reporting negotiations between Hamas and Egyptian official in Cairo are in the "advanced" stages, and Egypt is working to restore calm.

On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened an emergency meeting of his security Cabinet - which includes Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and senior army commanders - to discuss mounting tensions along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone.

One Israeli soldier has been shot dead by a Palestinian sniper during the same period, while incendiary devices attached to balloons and kites launched by Palestinians have sparked hundreds of fires in southern Israel, burning some 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of forest and farmland.

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An "appalling" BBC headline about the recent escalation in violence between Israel and Gaza has been changed, following a complaint by the Board of Deputies.

"This is a blatant crime and Israel is responsible for it", he said.

A fireball exploding during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City.

Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations special envoy who is involved in Egyptian efforts to broker a truce, said in a statement on Thursday that he's "deeply alarmed" by "multiple rockets fired toward communities in southern Israel" the day before.

The attacks came after around 150 rockets were fired from Gaza into the occupied territories from late Wednesday into Thursday, the Israeli military added.

It was the third severe flare-up of violence since July and came despite attempts by United Nations officials and Egypt to secure a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas.

The Israel Defense Forces Twitter account said its fighter jets had targeted more 140 strategic sites, including a weapons manufacturing and storage facility. "We are closing in on operation in Gaza", he said.

The rockets came after two Hamas fighters were killed by Israeli fire on Tuesday. Israel Railways has said that trains will not be running on the line between Ashkelon and Sderot.

The UN, he said, has engaged with Egypt in an "unprecedented effort" to avoid serious conflict, but warned that "the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people".

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