Air sirens sound in Hof Ashkelon region, Hamas fires at southern Israel

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Palestinians in Gaza fired dozens of rockets at southern Israel on Monday and Israel launched retaliatory air strikes, a day after an Israeli incursion prompted deadly fighting in the enclave.

Missile defences intercepted more than 100 rockets from Gaza and most others fell in open areas, though some hit houses and other civilian structures, the military said.

Israel and Palestinian fighters in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008, and recent months have raised fears of a fourth.

The airstrikes are also believed to be carried out to provide cover for the Israeli soldiers to escape.

Palestinian militant groups in Gaza agreed on Tuesday to halt cross-border attacks immediately if Israel did the same, officials said. Just last week, Israel let a Qatari plane land with cash for Gaza, meant to ease the area's distress.

Israeli media described the raid as an intelligence-gathering mission, and the military said it was not an attempt to kill or capture senior militants.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his Security Cabinet Tuesday to plot a way forward amid the fighting.

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The raid and the high-level casualties threatened to undermine efforts by Egypt and the United Nations to reach a long-term truce between Israel and Gaza and ease the dire humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territory, which has been under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since Hamas seized power more than a decade ago.

On Sunday, a clash erupted during the covert operation that killed seven Palestinian militants, including a local commander for Hamas's armed wing, as well as an Israeli army officer.

On Wednesday, the ministry announced the death of three Palestinians, in the Israeli shelling east of Gaza.

Tel Aviv's air strikes killed at least seven Palestinians in what appeared to be a targeted hit near the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza near the border with Israel on Sunday.

"Rocket fire would also target the cities of Ashdod and Beersheba in case Israel continued its attacks on civilian buildings in Gaza", group spokesman Abo Obaida said on Twitter.

Since March, more than 200 Palestinians have been martyred and thousands more injured by Israeli army fire during protests demanding the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their ancestral home in what is now Israel. Israeli war jets struck with eight missiles on Monday night the building of Al-Aqsa Television, a satellite channel that belongs to Hamas movement and airs from Gaza, the local radio station of Hamas said.

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