Israel pummelled Gaza with airstrikes and Palestinian militants launched rocket barrages at Israel on Saturday, with no sign yet of an imminent end to the worst escalation in years after six days of conflict and amid a rising death toll. U.S. and Arab diplomats were seeking to calm the situation after a night of violence that saw militants fire about 200 rockets at cities in Israel, whose planes struck what it said were targets used by Hamas, the Islamist group that runs Gaza.
At least 136 people have been killed in Gaza since hostilities erupted on Monday, including 34 children and 21 women, with 950 others wounded, Palestinian medics said.
Israel has reported eight dead, including a soldier on the Gaza border and six civilians, two of them children.
The Israeli bombardment killed at least 12 Palestinians overnight, medics said on Saturday, including a woman and her four children who died when their house in a refugee camp was hit. Three others also died and many others were wounded, the medics said.
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Thousands of Israelis ran for shelter as sirens sounded overnight. rockets launched from Gaza struck a residential building in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, police said. The media said some people were hurt in the town dashing to cover.
In Gaza, Akram Farouq, 36, dashed out of his home with his family after a neighbor told him they had received a call from an Israeli officer warning that their building would be hit.
“We haven’t slept all night because of the explosions, rockets and now I am out in the street with my wife and children, who are weeping and trembling,” said the 36-year-old.
Israel’s military said its aircraft struck rocket launch sites and apartments that belonged to Hamas militants. It said one target had fired a rocket barrage at Jerusalem on Monday.