Israeli warplanes struck dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip while Palestinian militants from the territory fired scores of rockets into Israel in a fierce burst of violence overnight and into Thursday morning. At least three Palestinians died—a pregnant woman, her 1-year-old daughter, and a Hamas militant, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The flare-up comes as Egypt is trying to broker a long-term cease-fire between the two sides, the AP reports. It was not clear if the escalation, the latest in a series of intense exchanges of fire in recent months, would derail the indirect negotiations between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers.
The Israeli military said over 150 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel, and Israel carried out over 140 airstrikes targeting Hamas militant positions. Air raid sirens signaling incoming rocket fire continued in southern Israel on Thursday morning, raising the likelihood of further Israeli reprisals. Israeli army spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus insisted Israel only targeted Hamas military targets in the Gaza Strip. He wouldn't comment on Israeli media reports of troops preparing for a possible ground operation.
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