Militants halt fire in Gaza flare-up

Militants halt fire in Gaza flare-up

Israel says it has no choice but to enforce its blockade to defend itself against Hamas, which calls for Israel's destruction and has used Gaza as a base for missile attacks.

There was no immediate Israeli comment.

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.

Palestinians gather around a building after it was bombed by an Israeli aircraft, in Gaza City, Aug. 9, 2018.

The Republican Jewish Coalition is headed by Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp.

The flare-up came after officials on both sides had talked about potential progress in an effort by the United Nations and Egypt to broker a truce to end months of violence and alleviate deepening humanitarian and economic hardship in the Gaza Strip.

According to the IDF statement, the building served Hamas to manage internal security throughout the Gaza Strip and some of the unit's personnel were also active in the terrorist organization's military wing. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned last month that Israel is preparing to launch a "large and painful military operation", and Thursday's bombardment appeared to be a step in that direction.

"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.

Israeli air forces pounded the Gaza Strip overnight, targeting over 100 sites in the besieged coastal enclave.

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A pregnant Palestinian woman and her 18-month-old child were killed in the Israeli attacks, as was a Hamas militant. Across the border rocket warning sirens sounded nearly non-stop from sunset on Wednesday in Israeli towns and villages where residents sheltered in bunkers.

The Gaza Strip, home to almost two million Palestinians, has been reeling under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007.

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

The development comes after two days of Israeli aerial raids against at least 150 positions in Gaza. The ministry said Khammash was also pregnant.

At least four people were hurt in the air strike, health officials said.

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". 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.

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

UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said the United Nations had engaged with Egypt in an "unprecedented effort" to avoid serious conflict, but "the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people".

After a sleepless night for residents of Gaza and nearby Israeli communities on Wednesday, there was little respite on Thursday morning.

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