The Israeli military says at least seven people were wounded in Israel in border towns, including two Thai workers, after at least 180 rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory.
Thursday's events are the latest in a series of severe flare ups over the past few months in Gaza, leading many local and global officials to speculate that another large-scale Israeli offensive on the Palestinian territory could be imminent.
On Wednesday night and Thursday, Israeli aircraft struck more than 150 targets in Gaza and Palestinian militants fired scores of rockets including a long-range missile deep into Israel, escalating fighting despite the ongoing truce talks.
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Public pressure in Israel to take more decisive military action is building.
Israeli Cabinet minister for construction and housing, Yoav Gallant, 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".
Israel's Permanent Representative to the U.N., Danny Danon, on Twitter put the blame for the more than 180 rockets launched at Israel on Hamas, and said the rockets were "aimed at innocent civilians".
In Sderot, the Israeli city near the Gaza Strip, a gaping hole could be seen in front of a small, three-story building. According to the Hamas-run health ministry, three people were killed including a pregnant woman and her toddler, and a Hamas fighter who is the son of a senior commander of Hamas' armed wing. A vehicle parked nearby was smashed.
According to the Jerusalem Post, more than 200 rockets and mortars were launched since August 8, leaving 28 Israelis injured.
"In the past 24 hours", he stated, "the Air Force attacked over 150 substantial targets along the Strip, including weapons storage, military compounds, training compounds, a building used by Hamas for military purposes, and terror cells".
It was the third major escalation since July and came despite attempts by United Nations officials and Egypt to secure a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip. He added that the resistance movement would insist on its position that the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip has to be lifted as part of any talks with Tel Aviv.
Before the Beersheba incident, Israeli officials said Netanyahu was due to hold the security cabinet session later in the day after consultations with security officials.
Earlier in the day, Hamas deputy chief in Gaza Khalil al-Hayya said efforts to reach a truce with the Israeli regime were at "an advanced stage".
Strikingly, the word "respond", or any variation thereof, appears only in context of Hamas responding to Israeli strikes: "Hamas, the Islamic militant group that has ruled Gaza for 11 years, has been trying to change the balance of deterrence in the area, responding to every Israeli strike against Gaza".
Israeli media reported that army officials later acknowledged a mistake had been made and the militants had not been firing at soldiers, though the military would not confirm that information to AFP.
At least 165 Palestinians have killed by Israeli fire since then.
Protests and clashes along the Gaza border began on March 30 and peaked with the May 14 move of the US Embassy for Israel to the disputed city of Jerusalem.
A more than decade-long Israeli air, land, and sea blockade has crippled Gaza's economy, which boasts one of the highest unemployment rates in the world at 44 percent, leaving an estimated 80 percent of the territory's population dependent on humanitarian assistance.