Palestinian militants bombarded southern Israel with dozens of rockets and mortar shells Tuesday, while Israeli warplanes struck targets throughout the Gaza Strip in the largest flare-up of violence between the sides since a 2014 war. The Israeli military said most of the projectiles were intercepted, but three soldiers were wounded, raising the chances of further Israeli retaliation. One mortar shell landed near a kindergarten shortly before it opened, the AP reports. The sudden burst of violence, which stretched past midnight with no signs of slowing, follows weeks of mass Palestinian protests along the Gaza border with Israel. Over 110 Palestinians, many of them unarmed protesters, have been killed by Israeli fire in that time. Israel says it holds Gaza's Hamas rulers responsible for the bloodshed.
Tuesday's violence bore a striking resemblance to the run-up to past wars. Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, the chief military spokesman in Israel, threatened tougher action and said it was up to Hamas to stop the situation from escalating. Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad militant issued a joint statement Tuesday, claiming shared responsibility for firing rockets and projectiles against Israeli communities near Gaza. They said Israel "began this round of escalation" by targeting their installations in the past two days, killing four militants. It was the first time the armed wing of Hamas has claimed responsibility for rocket attacks out of Gaza since the 2014 war. The United States condemned the attacks out of Gaza and called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council (Read more Israel stories.)