Gaza City (AFP/APP): Israel’s army and Gaza militants traded heavy cross-border fire Wednesday, with 22 Palestinians killed over two days amid the worst escalation of violence to hit the coastal territory in months.
Sirens in the Tel Aviv area and Israel’s south warned of incoming rockets, with an AFP reporter observing launches from Gaza as Israeli officials said Egypt was working on a possible truce with the Islamic Jihad.
Smoke billowed from the densely populated coastal enclave after Israel announced it was targeting rocket launch sites of the Islamic Jihad.
Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant noted over 400 launches from Gaza late Wednesday, as the Islamic Jihad said Palestinian “resistance” was keeping up its fire.
A home and car were hit by rockets in the southern Israeli cities of Ashkelon and Sderot, Israeli officials said, with the army announcing a series of new strikes on the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Gaza’s health ministry said seven people were killed, a day after Israeli strikes on the Palestinian territory left 15 dead.
Four of those killed Wednesday were fighters with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the group said.
Late Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was “still in the midst of the campaign,” noting that “no Israeli civilian has been wounded up to now.”
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has escalated since Netanyahu’s latest coalition, including extreme right and ultra-Orthodox parties, took office in December.
It comes against the backdrop of Israel’s biggest domestic crisis in decades around now-shelved judicial reforms proposed by the government of Netanyahu, himself on trial for corruption he denies.

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