Israeli army strikes Gaza in response to rockets hitting city of Sderot

A Military Police car blocks a road leading to Zikim beach after it was closed to visitors due to escalating rocket fire from the Gaza Strip toward southern Israel

Israeli army strikes Gaza in response to rockets hitting city of Sderot

At least three Palestinian were killed and eight others were wounded on Wednesday in Israeli air strikes on Gaza, which Israel said were in retaliation for rocket fires and an alleged attack from the Palestinian side that targeted its heavy equipment on the Gaza-Israeli border.

At least two Palestinians were wounded in raids aimed targeting a Hamas base in the southern Gaza Strip, the enclave's health ministry said.

The Swedish government confirmed that all the Swedes had been sent home on Wednesday, while the Ship to Gaza activist group said shortly before midday that "most of [the activists] are already in transfer".

The rocket launches come after an IDF tank struck a Hamas facility in Gaza on Tuesday, reportedly killing two members of Hamas' military wing's al-Nukhba elite unit and wounding six others.

"I am deeply alarmed by the recent escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel, and particularly by today's multiple rockets fired toward communities in southern Israel", said U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov in an overnight statement. "The "Iron Dome" aerial defence system intercepted 11 launches, the majority of the rockets hit open areas", the IAF said on its Twitter account.

The Anadolu report did not specify at which stage of the truce the release would be carried out, nor whether or not it would involve releasing Hamas terrorists who are behind bars in Israel.

The United Nations condemned the Hamas rocket fire.

The IDF said: "Terrorists shot at civilian vehicles that were being used in the effort to construct the barrier around the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip".

"Hamas hit the "enemy" with a large number of rockets", it said.

The push for a long-term ceasefire agreement follows months of clashes between Israel and Hamas, marked by a surge in cross-border arson attacks, rocket fire, and violent clashes which brought the sides to the brink of a full-scale war in two separate military flare-ups in July.

The Israeli army earlier on Wednesday said Palestinians fired at least 36 rockets across the border.

One Hamas militant was killed in the air strikes, as was a Palestinian woman and her 18 month old child, Palestinian officials said.

A truce between Hamas and Israel will be officially unveiled by the end of August, according to Turkey's official news agency Anadolu, quoting a Hamas source.

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