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Israel-Gaza fighting continues for second day after militant’s death

Cross-border violence between Israel and militants in Gaza is continuing, a day after an Israeli air strike killed a Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander.

After an overnight lull, rocket fire towards Israel resumed and Israeli aircraft conducted retaliatory strikes.

Gaza's health ministry said 14 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli fire on Wednesday, bringing the death toll there to 24 since Tuesday.

In Israel, some 50 people have been treated for injuries or anxiety.

Egyptian and UN officials have been attempting to de-escalate the situation, but PIJ has said it is not yet "appropriate" to talk about mediation.

What is the latest?

After a six-hour pause, PIJ militants resumed firing rockets at around 06:30 (04:30 GMT), triggering air-raid sirens in southern and central Israel.

Israeli media reported that more than 150 rockets had been launched by Wednesday afternoon, bringing the total since Tuesday to 350.

An elderly woman was slightly wounded by broken glass after a rocket hit a house in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, Israeli media reported. Another rocket hit a factory in the southern town of Sderot.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it had bombed more PIJ targets in Gaza on Wednesday in response, including a military headquarters in Khan Younis and a factory manufacturing warheads for long-range rockets in the south of the strip.

The health ministry in Gaza said three children were among the 14 people reportedly killed in the strikes.

PIJ confirmed that the dead included members of its military wing, the al-Quds Brigades. Khaled Faraj, a field commander, was killed in a strike in central Gaza.

UN Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov warned that the continuing escalation was "very dangerous".

"The indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars against population centres is absolutely unacceptable and must stop immediately," he said. "There can be no justification for any attacks against civilians."

What happened on Tuesday?

A pre-dawn Israeli air strike on a residential building in eastern Gaza City killed Baha Abu al-Ata, a senior PIJ military commander, and his wife.

At about the same time, the home of another leader of the Iran-backed group was struck by an Israeli missile in Damascus, killing two people, Syrian state media said. Israel did not comment on the incident.

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Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, described Abu al-Ata as an "arch-terrorist" and a "ticking bomb" who posed an imminent threat to the country.

Abu al-Ata was thought to be behind recent rocket fire from Gaza, including an attack 10 days ago on Sderot, and to have acted increasingly outside of the control of the dominant militant faction Hamas.

Militants in Gaza said Israel had crossed a "red line" and fired more than 200 rockets in response.

About 90% of the rockets were intercepted by Iron Dome air defence systems, the IDF said, but one exploded on a main road close to passing cars, and elsewhere two people were lightly injured by shrapnel. An eight-year-old girl also suffered a heart attack in a bomb shelter and remains in a serious condition.

The IDF said it carried out air strikes in Gaza targeting PIJ rocket-launching units and infrastructure. Gaza's health ministry said eight people were killed, in addition to Abu al-Ata and his wife.

What are both sides saying?

PIJ spokesman Musab al-Buraim told the Hamas-linked Shehab news agency that it was not "appropriate" to discuss Egyptian efforts to end the flare-up when the grRead More – Source

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