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35 killed in Gaza, 5 in Israel, as violence rampes up

GAZA: At least 35 people killed in Gaza and five in Israel in the most intense aerial exchanges in years occurred between Israel and Hamas on Wednesday.

Hundreds of air strikes were carried out by Israel in Gaza until Wednesday morning, as the Islamist group Hamas and other Palestinian militants launched several rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and Beersheba.

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After being repeatedly hit by Israeli air strikes, one multi-story residential building in Gaza collapsed and another was severely damaged.

Early on Wednesday, Israel said its jets had targeted and killed many Hamas intelligence leaders. Other strikes targeted rocket launch sites, Hamas offices and the homes of Hamas leaders, according to the military.

It was Israel’s most serious offensive against Hamas since the 2014 Gaza war, and it sparked international concern that the situation could escalate out of control.

U.N. Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland tweeted: “Stop the fire immediately. We’re escalating towards a full scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of deescalation. The cost of war in Gaza is devastating & is being paid by ordinary people. UN is working w/ all sides to restore calm. Stop the violence now.”

Israeli attacks, outgoing rockets and Israeli air defence missiles intercepting them shook Gazan homes and lit up the sky.
Just after dawn on Wednesday, at least 30 explosions were heard in a matter of minutes.

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