Deadly fire traded across the Israel-Gaza border

Eight people have been killed in a flare-up of violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.

This is one of the most serious rounds of fighting since Israel and Hamas fought a war in 2014
This is one of the most serious rounds of fighting since Israel and Hamas fought a war in 2014

More than 460 rockets have been fired into Israel by militants since Monday night, while Israeli aircraft have hit 160 militant targets in response.

Seven Palestinians, several of them militants, died in the strikes on Gaza, while a Palestinian civilian was killed in a rocket attack in southern Israel.

Later, Palestinian militant groups said Egypt had brokered a ceasefire.

The military wing of Hamas, the Islamist movement that dominates Gaza, said it would "abide by this declaration as long as the Zionist enemy commits to it".

A senior Israeli official appeared to confirm the report. Israeli media quoted the official as saying, "Israel maintains its right to act. Requests from Hamas for a ceasefire came through four different mediators.

"Israel responded that the events on the ground will decide how it proceeds."

The escalation began when an undercover Israeli special forces operation inside Gaza was exposed on Sunday. A Hamas commander was among seven militants killed in clashes, and an Israeli lieutenant-colonel in the undercover unit also died.

Recently there had been signs that the UN and Egypt had made progress in an effort to secure a truce on the Gaza border, where more than 200 Palestinians have been killed in protests since March.

The Israeli military has been accused of using excessive force against protesters, but has said its soldiers have only opened fire in self-defence or on potential attackers trying to infiltrate its territory.

After a brief lull following Sunday night's violence, a barrage of rockets and mortars was launched towards Israel late on Monday, which Israeli medics said killed one person and injured 28.

A bus, which had reportedly been carrying troops, was hit by an anti-tank missile in the Shaar Hanegev region, seriously wounding a male soldier.

Overnight, a man was killed when a block of flats in Ashkelon was hit by a rocket. He was later identified as a Palestinian from the occupied West Bank who had been working in Israel.

Eight other people were injured in the attack, including two women who the Israeli ambulance service said were in a serious condition.

In response, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) carried out what it called a wide-scale attack against military targets belonging to the Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups.

It said they included Hamas's military intelligence headquarters in northern Gaza and "a unique vessel" in a harbour in the south of the territory.

The building housing Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV was also bombed after being evacuated. The IDF said the outlet "contributes to Hamas's military actions".

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said seven people were killed and 26 others injured in the strikes. At least four of the dead were militants: two are said to have been farmers in northern Gaza.

This is one of the most serious rounds of fighting since Israel and Hamas fought a war in 2014.

The IDF has warned it is prepared to "dial up its response" to the rocket fire, while Hamas's military wing said it was ready to "expand the circle of fire" against Israel.

UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said the escalation was "extremely dangerous" and that efforts were being made to pull Gaza "back from the brink".

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