Israeli airstrike kills 2 Palestinians in Gaza

Palestinian teenager killed in Gaza border protests

Sources close to Hamas were quoted over the weekend as saying that the Egyptians made it clear to Arouri and his colleagues that Cairo was keen on preventing another war between Israel and the Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip.

"Egyptian and global efforts succeeded in ending the current round of escalation", a Palestinian official told Reuters.

Israel blamed Hamas for the escalation, pointing to months of protests and clashes along the border that its military argues the Islamist movement is seeking to use as cover for attacks.

Over 130, mostly unarmed, Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since protests began on March 30.

A wave of Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip throughout Saturday that have killed two people were the biggest since a 2014 war in the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave, an air force official said.

"Tonight, IDF fighter jets targeted an attack terror tunnel in southern Gaza, in addition to several terror sites throughout Gaza, among them complexes used to prepare arson terror attacks and a Hamas terror training facility", the IDF said, posting a video of the strike.

A Palestinian official who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said Egypt and other worldwide players were holding contacts with Israel and Gaza to restore calm.

Early in the morning, the Israeli military said in a statement that at least one Hamas rocket landed inside a rural settlement in Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council area.

In Israel, air raid sirens sent people rushing to shelters in areas surrounding the Gaza Strip as rockets and mortars were fired from the Palestinian enclave at nearby communities. Later the military said an Israeli officer was moderately wounded by a grenade thrown at him. A 15-year-old Palestinian who tried to climb over the fence into Israel was shot dead.

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The IDF said it fired back and the terrorists.

The Israeli military carried out its largest daytime airstrike campaign in Gaza since the 2014 war as Hamas militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel, threatening to spark a wider conflagration after weeks of tensions along the volatile border.

In a statement, the military said Hamas' activities "violate Israeli sovereignty, endanger Israeli civilians and sabotage Israel's humanitarian efforts that aim to help Gazan civilians". The Israeli military claimed that its so-called Iron Dome missile defense system had managed to intercept 16 of the projectiles.

"The IDF has struck Hamas with the hardest blow since Operation Protective Edge and we will increase the strength of our attacks as necessary".

Hours later, Israel launched air strikes in Gaza.

On Monday, Israel announced it was shutting down the Kerem Shalom border crossing - the Strip's main crossing for commercial goods - in response to the endless stream of incendiary and explosive kites and balloons that have been flown into southern Israel, sparking fires that have burned thousands of acres of land and caused millions of shekels in damages.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Reuters: "Efforts by many parties have continued since the beginning of the escalation and the Israeli bombardment on Gaza".

The recent killing of two boys aged 18 and 15 respectively bring the total toll since the beginning of the Great March of Return to 139.

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