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Tense calm, cease-fire follows another Hamas-Israel flare-up

Tense calm, cease-fire follows another Hamas-Israel flare-up

The Israeli military said seven people were wounded by Palestinian rockets and mortars that hit southern Israel across the border.

Smoke billows during an Israeli air strike on Gaza City, Aug. 9, 2018.

Public pressure in Israel to take more decisive military action is building.

Since the escalation on Wednesday, Palestinian militants fired scores of rockets including a long-range missile deep into Israel and Israeli aircraft struck more than 150 targets in Gaza.

Ambulance sirens echoed through the night in Gaza, where families huddled at home as powerful explosions thundered through the strip.

- AbdelKarim Alkahlout #Gaza (@KareemN96) August 9, 2018 Gaza under attack from Israeli warplanes. The Palestinian Health Ministry says seven bystanders were wounded in Thursday evening's airstrike in the Shati refugee camp.

Hamas warned Israel it would pay for the attack, and on Wednesday the army said shots were fired at civilian engineers working on an underground barrier along the border, prompting the military to respond with tank fire.

In the Israeli airstrikes that followed, three Palestinians were killed, including a 23-year old pregnant woman and her 18-month-old daughter, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza.

In nearby Israeli communities, residents were sent scrambling to bomb shelters. It was the first time a rocket had hit the city since the 2014 war.

A Hamas spokesperson, Abdul Latif al-Qanoa, said that Hamas militants were "defending its people against the ongoing Israeli aggression on Gaza as part of its national duty".

Gaza militants had at around noon halted fire after targeting Israel with some 180 rockets and mortars beginning Wednesday night and into Thursday.

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Twenty-four of the slain protesters were minors, the ministry has said.

In turn, Israel carried out over 140 airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

"Bayan was sleeping with her mother and father".

Egypt and the United Nations are trying to mediate a truce to prevent the escalation in fighting turning into another all-out war over Gaza, a narrow strip of land that is home to 2 million Palestinians, mainly stateless descendants of people who fled or were driven from Israel in war at its founding in 1948.

"What I can say is that we targeted by definition only military targets that were clearly used by Hamas where there was an active presence of Hamas and nothing else", he told journalists. Some rockets landed in the communities, and many others were shot down by the Iron Dome, which is created to intercept only rockets headed towards population centers.

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".

On Twitter, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri echoed similar sentiments, and called on the global community to "shoulder its responsibilities towards Israel's aggression and siege".

Protests and clashes along the Gaza border began on March 30 and peaked with the May 14 move of the US Embassy for Israel to the disputed city of Jerusalem.

At least 165 Palestinians have killed by Israeli fire since then.

After the BBC published a headline that read, "Israeli air strikes "kill woman and a toddler, '" the Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a formal complaint to the British outlet, and it ultimately changed the headline to, "Gaza air strikes 'kill woman and child" after rockets hit Israel".