Incredible footage of Israel intercepting mid-air rocket from Gaza

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Three Palestinians were reported killed in early strikes, but the figure has not been updated in some time. One Hamas operative, identified as Ali al-Ghadnour, a relative of senior Hamas commander Abu Anas Ghandour who was designated by the US State Department as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist a year ago. Meanwhile, air raid sirens sounded nearly nonstop in southern Israel from sundown on Wednesday, warning residents to stay in shelters as more than 80 rockets were fired in their direction. "My thoughts are with the families of the wounded and injured, including both the innocent Israelis and Palestinians caught up in this needless escalation by Hamas".

Additionally, terrorists from the Gaza Strip ignited at least 11 fires throughout southern Israel that had to be extinguished by Israeli firefighters.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the mortar barrage, saying it came in response to the IDF's killing of its two operatives on Tuesday.

Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations' humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, in a news release called Israel's restriction of fuel imports "a unsafe practice, with grave consequences on the rights of people in Gaza". A 23-year-old pregnant woman and her 18-month old child were also killed in the strikes, according to the ministry.

The Israeli army said on Thursday morning that it had pounded more than 140 targets in Gaza belonging to the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement. Middle East Eye could not immediately confirm either account of the events. Palestinian media reported airstrikes continued through the night into Thursday morning.

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A fireball exploding during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City.

Huge pillars of black and grey smoke were seen coming out from the al-Meshaal Centre for Culture. "Despite this, IDF activity continued throughout the day and the cabinet ordered the army to continue to act against terrorist elements in Gaza", the official said.

Also on Wednesday, the army fired several missiles into various areas of the Gaza Strip, including a building in the Sudaniyya area of northern Gaza, which was first struck by three missiles, followed by an additional six missiles, just minutes later.

"We have had another night of escalation and we are not seeing the end", he said. "We are reinforcing the southern command and Gaza division".

In another round of escalation, Israel responded to rocket fire by striking what it says are Hamas militant targets in Gaza.

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

Air raid sirens sounded nearly nonstop in southern Israel from sundown on Wednesday, warning residents to stay in shelters as more than 80 rockets were fired in their direction.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a trip to Colombia in order to meet with security officials for ceasefire negotiations.

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