Israel strikes targets in Gaza Strip, 3 killed

Firefighting team

Firefighting team

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.

Hamas' Al Aqsa TV channel reported late Thursday that the Egyptian-brokered deal has taken hold "on the basis of mutual calm".

It said the deal was mediated by Egypt and other regional players.

The Israeli military said its aircraft had struck more than 150 Hamas targets overnight, while more than 180 Palestinian rockets and mortars hit southern Israel.

The Israeli military declined to comment on the official's remarks. But at least 11 Israelis were injured after projectiles slammed into residential areas, blowing out windows and leaving cars and buildings pockmarked with shrapnel.

Four Palestinians, including an unborn child, were killed in Israeli strikes in Gaza, according to Palestinian Health Ministry officials. The IDF said the building was being used by Hamas for military purposes.

A spokesman for Hamas said Friday that the group would not be deterred from urging Gazans to continue protests that have taken place every Friday since late March, dubbed the "Great March of Return".

A long-range rocket fired from Gaza struck an uninhabited area outside the largest city in southern Israel on Thursday, Israeli police said, hours after a Palestinian official said an end to a surge in cross-border fighting could be near. The ministry said Khammash was also pregnant and at least 12 others were injured.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolay Mladenov, said in a statement issued on early Thursday that he was "deeply alarmed by the recent escalation of violence".

"It's a very concerning situation", she said.

"Our collective efforts have prevented the situation from exploding until now".

Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations envoy for the Middle East conflict who has been seeking to negotiate a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, said he was "deeply alarmed".

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 Palestinian Health Ministry says seven bystanders were wounded in Thursday evening's airstrike in the Shati refugee camp. For more than a decade Gaza has been controlled by Hamas under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade that has collapsed its economy, creating what the World Bank has described as a humanitarian crisis with shortages of water, electricity and medicine. "I am sure the residents of the Gaza border communities are strong and we call on them to continue to listen to the instructions of the Home Front Command", Head of the Southern Command Maj. The Israeli air force, meanwhile, pounded targets across Gaza.

Most of the rockets fired by Palestinian militants landed in open areas, but at least two hit the Israeli town of Sderot near the Gaza Strip and sirens sounded throughout the night and into the morning. It was the first time a rocket had hit the city since the 2014 war.

"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.

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