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Hamas pounds southern Israel with 70 rockets, IDF strikes back

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in meeting discussing the situation in Gaza with Defense Minister

It said about 150 rockets had been launched from Gaza towards Israeli territory.

The strikes came after two rockets launched from the coastal enclave hit the town of Sderot, near Gaza's northern border, police and the army said.

One Hamas militant was killed in the air strikes, as was a Palestinian woman and her 18 month old child, Palestinian officials said. The ministry said Khammash was also pregnant.

On Wednesday, UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov condemned the Hamas rocket fire and called for both sides to step away from the brink.

Meanwhile, an official from the Islamist Gaza Strip government told Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency on Wednesday that Hamas may be ready to reach an agreement toward a truce with Israel.

Hamas's military wing said it was behind the rocket attacks.

Sirens wailed in southern Israel warning of incoming projectiles from Gaza and Israeli media reported two people were lightly injured from shrapnel in the border town of Sderot. "The "Iron Dome" aerial defence system intercepted 11 launches, the majority of the rockets hit open areas", the IAF said on its Twitter account.

Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations' humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, in a news release called Israel's restriction of fuel imports "a risky practice, with grave consequences on the rights of people in Gaza".

However, earlier in the evening, at least two Israelis were injured as a result of rockets that landed in Sderot.

Earlier in the day, the Israeli army shelled a Hamas military position in Gaza in retaliation for an alleged attack from the Palestinian side that targeted its heavy equipment on the Gaza-Israeli border.

The escalation comes after the Hamas leadership convened for a rare meeting in Gaza on Friday.

The strikes came after two fighters from the military wing of Hamas, which rules Gaza, were killed by Israeli fire on Tuesday.

The attacks come as the United Nations and Egypt try to secure a deal between Israel and Hamas for a lasting truce. The IDF later suggested the incident was a misunderstanding, as the tank returned fire in response to the shots fired as part of a ceremony of the al-Qassam Brigades, which were not deliberately aimed at Israeli soldiers, Haaretz reported. He said, "Hamas is moving away from an arrangement to calm things down and is moving near to a war in which it would be hit hard".

Clashes along the Gaza border since the end of March have seen at least 165 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire.

The last war in 2014 ended with a tense ceasefire and analysts say another round of conflict remains likely.

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