Israeli jets strike Gaza in response to Palestinian rockets

Trump envoy Greenblatt calls for unifying Gaza-PA but plan may be dead in the water

Israeli fighter jets struck targets in the Gaza Strip early on Wednesday after a rocket was sacked and hit a home in southern Israel. The military explained in a tweet that the prevented launch had nonetheless triggered sirens in the country's south, indicating possible new shelling from the Gaza Strip.

Egypt, which sent a delegation to Gaza on Tuesday for the latest round of talks on a long-term ceasefire, postponed a visit there by its intelligence chief, Abbas Kamel, following Wednesday's surge in violence, Palestinian officials said.

Gaza militants fired two rockets before dawn, one of which caused major damage to a family home in the southern city of Beersheba, 40 kilometres (25 miles) away, the Israeli army said.

In the hours after the rocket fire, Israeli fighter jets bombed some 20 targets in Gaza, the army said.

Rivlin said there could be no easing of the blockade while Israelis remained under threat of rocket attack.

He said retaliatory strikes had hit 20 targets, including a Hamas attack tunnel and an "advanced weapons manufacturing site". Egypt and the United Nations have been trying to mediate a long-term ceasefire.

Israel Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered the closure of both border crossings with the enclave.

Hamas has been ramping up the violent riots along the border fence in order to achieve the complete removal of what it calls the Israeli "blockade" or "siege".

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Israel views the protests as riots and says its response is a justified defense of Israeli civilians living in the Gaza periphery.

Israel's defence minister said on Tuesday that months of violent Palestinian protests on the Gaza border can not be allowed to go on, urging cabinet colleagues to back tougher measures.

"What they're doing is sending Palestinian civilians forward, causing them to endanger themselves by attacking Israel and then hoping that these civilian casualties will generate or garner global interest in what's happening and perhaps alleviate the situation in Gaza", he added.

"We reject all irresponsible attempts that try to change the direction and sabotage the Egyptian efforts, including the overnight firing of the rocket", they said. - The border protests since March 30 have been labelled the "Great March of Return" because they call for Palestinian refugees to return to their former homes inside what is now Israel.

"We must land a strong blow against Hamas".

The situation in southern Israel further deteriorated last Friday when an estimated 15,000 Palestinian Arabs participated in an orgy of violence along the border with Israel, while Hamas used the chaos to launch another attempt to infiltrate the Jewish state and to kidnap IDF soldiers.

It has intensified the protests in recent weeks as Egyptian-mediated cease-fire efforts have faltered.

In response, Israel halted Qatari-donated fuel shipments to Gaza's power plant. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened "very painful blows", saying Israel was very close to waging a "different kind of activity". A war would be "devastating for the people of Gaza and for the Israelis who live across the border", he said.

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