Israel makes progress on Gaza maritime barrier

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At least seven Israelis were injured by the rocket fire, including three in the border town of.

Israeli Ynet News said that one Israeli man, aged 23, was injured by shrapnel in his leg, and added that "two pregnant women in addition to a man, 42 years of age, were treated for shock", before being moved to Barzilai Hospital.

On Thursday, the IDF destroyed a five-story building allegedly housing Hamas' internal security service and offices of the group's senior response to a rocket fired at Beersheba, almost 40km from the border with Gaza.

Sirens sounded in Israeli areas near Gaza, warning residents to seek immediate shelter, the Israeli 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.

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The Palestinian news agency WAFA, citing health sources, reported at least 12 Palestinians were wounded.

Israeli Cabinet minister for construction and housing, Yoav Galant, said that "whatever is needed to be done to defend our civilians and soldiers, will be done, no matter what would be the price in Gaza".

A fireball exploding during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City. Public demands by both sides for the other to release detainees appear to have been a stumbling block in securing a long-term truce.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the mortar barrage, saying it came in response to the IDF's killing of its two operatives on Tuesday.

A video has been circulating on social media that captures the terror that Israelis endure when Hamas launches rockets at them.

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A 30-year-old Hamas affiliate was killed in the strikes, Gaza Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qedra said.

Smoke plumes and fireballs could be seen over the Gaza Strip as the strikes were being carried out. A volley launched against the city of Sderot caused injuries to three Israelis. According to reports, it would be the relative of a senior Hamas commander.

He said Hamas is demanding the complete lifting of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade, while Israel has offered only to ease the restrictions. He said Israel has offered only an easing, but not an end, to the blockade. "If the current escalation is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people".

Jason Greenblatt, a U.S. envoy who has been involved in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, pointed a finger squarely at Hamas for the escalation of violence.

Hamas warned Israel it would pay for the attack, and on Wednesday the army said shots had been fired at civilian engineers working on an underground barrier along the border, prompting the military to respond with tank fire at a Hamas post.

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"We can say that actions led by the United Nations and Egypt are in advanced stages and we hope it could yield some good from them", Khalil Al-Hayya, deputy Hamas chief in Gaza, told Al Jazeera television.