Hamas fires rockets, Israel bombs Gaza despite talk of truce

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

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

Islamic militant group Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since Israel disengaged from the region in 2005.

The IDF stated that it struck a military compound belonging to the Eastern Rafah Battalion, a shaft belonging to an attack tunnel in Jabalya as well as another two combat tunnels near the coast in the central Gaza Strip.

US Envoy Jason Greenblatt who has been involved in peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine, pointed a finger squarely at Hamas for the escalation of violence.

Only in the early afternoon did the first signs of calm appear, with Hamas saying it will halt rocket fire. Since then, the group has fought three wars with Israel, most recently in 2014, resulting in deaths and injuries of thousands of civilians and leaving much of Gaza is ruin.

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.

Israeli forces also began massing on the Gaza periphery, and the officer who spoke to Army Radio said a ground operation was very likely if the situation continued to deteriorate.

In response, Israel responded with tank fire, which provoked a barrage of rocket fire into Israel and further airstrikes in Gaza.

Three Israelis were reported wounded in a rocket attack on the southern city of Sderot.

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Hamas is demanding the lifting of an Israeli-Egyptian border blockade that has devastated Gaza's economy, while Israel wants an end to rocket fire, as well as recent border protests and launches of incendiary balloons, and the return of the remains of two dead soldiers and two live Israelis believed to be held by Hamas.

At least three Palestinians died - a pregnant woman, her one-year-old daughter and a Hamas militant, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Sirens were sounded in several Israeli areas close to the border with Gaza, warning residents to seek immediate shelter, the Israeli army said.

TRT World's Mohammad Mansour reports from Gaza. The Iron Dome anti-missile battery, programmed to intercept missiles that go to residential areas, shot down 25 rockets.

The incident occurred while a group of senior Hamas leaders from overseas were visiting Gaza to discuss the ceasefire efforts with local leaders.

The nearly daily airborne arson attacks have been part of months of weekly border protests led by the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza aimed in part at drawing attention to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after it took control of the territory in 2007. "We are reinforcing the southern command and Gaza division".

The attacks come as the United Nations and Egypt try to secure a deal between Israel and Hamas for a lasting truce.

The statistics showed that 155 Palestinians were shot and killed, while 17,259 suffered from various injuries, including tear-gas suffocation.

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