Gaza pounded by Israeli air strikes after rocket barrage

"As of now, approximately 70 rocket launches were identified from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory".

Israel responded with airstrikes and shelling of several locations, which led to the killing of the three Palestinians. "Their plan will remain on paper and it is completely rejected".

Incoming rocket sirens continued to wail throughout southern Israel, including the city of Ashkelon, as projectiles continued to be launched from the Gaza Strip on Thursday as Israeli jets and tanks continued to pound the coastal enclave. The EU did not officially inform the Israeli government of the plan.

The Israel Defence Forces said mounting violence began Wednesday after militants shot at an IDF vehicle near the Gaza Strip. A member of Hamas died in one of the air strikes. "The project is part of the EU's overall investment in the PA's governmental activities and in the future vision for the establishment of a Palestinian state".

Israel halted the supply of petroleum and natural gas to Gaza last week in response to incendiary kites and balloons launched from Gaza into southern Israel.

The Gaza Health Ministry say pregnant 23-year-old Enas Khammash and her 18-month daughter were killed in Jafarawi in central Gaza. At least five other civilians were also wounded.

The attacks came after around 150 rockets were fired from Gaza into the occupied territories from late Wednesday into Thursday, the Israeli military added.

A senior Israeli military official said Thursday that the army is "nearing war with Gaza" and would evacuate Israelis living in communities adjacent to the border if necessary.

What outraged the Israeli side is the BBC's "deliberate lying", while not mentioning the fact that the Israeli bombing was triggered by the rockets fired from Gaza toward southern Israel as the Israeli media reported, despite Hamas' denial.

Gaza has been controlled by Hamas for more than a decade, during which time it has fought three wars against Israel, most recently in 2014.

The escalation comes after the Hamas leadership convened for a rare meeting in Gaza on Friday.

The U.N., he said, has engaged with Egypt in an "unprecedented effort" to avoid serious conflict, but warned "the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people".

Both sides have said they are working towards a ceasefire agreement, though continued rocket fire may dampen efforts. That was followed by the rocket fire and then the Israeli strikes.

Tensions have been running high near the Gaza fence since March 30, which marked the start of a series of protests demanding the right to return for the Plaestinains driven out of their homeland.

The gathering had raised hopes a deal for a lasting truce with Israel, with the backing of Egypt and the United Nations.

"What is required is for calm to be restored along the border between us and the Zionist enemy".

One Israeli soldier has been shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.

Vanessa Coleman