Netanyahu pledges 'massive strikes' in Gaza

He signaled readiness to "return to the state of calm" if Israel stopped its attacks "and immediately starts implementing understandings about a dignified life". Palestinian militant leaders were in Cairo trying to reach a new cease-fire.

Netanyahu is engaged in tough negotiations to form a new government following April's election and the country celebrates its Independence Day on Thursday. If fighting drags on, the normally cautious Netanyahu could be weakened in his negotiations as his partners push for a tougher response.

At the weekend, its militants released videos threatening Israel and next week's Eurovision song contest being held in Tel Aviv. Prolonged fighting could overshadow these important occasions and deter foreign tourists.

The escalation of violence has also coincided with the onset of Ramadan, a high holy Muslim month beginning on Monday.

But the group is also taking a big risk if it pushes too hard.

The Israeli assaults were met by Palestinian resistance factions launching more than 500 rockets towards Israeli settlements, killing four people, according to Israeli media outlets.

Aerial exchanges have been frequent between Hamas and Israel over the past five years. Gen. Assaf Orion, a former head of the Israeli military general staff's strategic division.

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, "The Israelis have every right to defend themselves". Fuel imports into Gaza from Israel have also been halted, according to reports.

Rocket bombardments began on Saturday morning, with about 430 rockets fired in less than 24 hours. Following a familiar pattern, the current round began with sporadic rocket fire amid Palestinian accusations that Israel was not keeping its promises to loosen the blockade.

A Palestinian gunman shot and wounded two Israeli soldiers at the boundary fence.

The Israeli military said Sunday it had responded to more than 600 rockets fired from Gaza with more than 250 airstrikes against the besieged Palestinian enclave.

Israeli media reported Gaza fighters over the past two days fired more than 400 rockets at towns and cities in southern Israel and that the Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile system had intercepted more than 250 of them.

ITV cited Gaza's Health Ministry, which identified the 14-month-old girl as Seba Abu Arar, and claimed she had been killed in an Israeli air strike.

A rocket that hit a house in Ashkelon on Sunday killed a 58-year-old man, police said.

Out of those, three people died and three more were seriously wounded - including an elderly Israeli woman.

A house near Ashkelon was damaged and other rockets hit open areas.

The IDF said it carried out airstrikes in Gaza, including a tunnel, rocket launcher sites and other military compounds used by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Palestinian emergency personnel try to put out the fire on a auto belonging to Hamas member Hamad al-Khodori, in Gaza City on May 5, 2019, after it was hit by an Israeli airstrike.

On Sunday, Israel's defence forces sent infantry brigades to the border area.

Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said Israel's strikes hit a variety of "high-quality" militant sites, including commanders' homes in which militant activity was observed.

Civilians, including a 12-year-old boy and two pregnant women were also among those reportedly killed.

A pregnant mother and her baby niece have been killed amid fresh conflict between Israel and militants in Gaza.

The Palestinian dead included a commander for Hamas's armed wing who Israel said it targeted due to his role in transferring money from Iran to militant groups in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians stand in front of a destroyed multi-storey building was hit by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City today.

The sound of sirens cut into the 1 p.m. (1000 GMT) news on Israel Radio, with the broadcaster warning residents in the south to take cover. School was cancelled in southern Israel and emergency protocol enacted. In Gaza, large explosions thundered across the blockaded enclave during the night as plumes of smoke rose into the air.

  • Tracy Klein