Intense fighting erupts on Israel-Gaza border after botched raid

A home in the southern Israeli town of Netivot that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip

A home in the southern Israeli town of Netivot that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip

Scores of rockets continued to be launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel on Monday, with at least two projectiles landing in border communities and hitting an Israeli bus, leaving a 19-year-old in critical condition.

In a joint statement, Palestinian resistance factions announced that they had begun firing rockets into southern Israel in response to an Israeli military incursion into the southern Gaza Strip late last night.

They said scores of rockets, mortar bombs and at least one anti-tank missile had been fired into southern Israel.

Israel's military said it had so far struck more than 20 militant sites in response to some 80 launches from the Hamas-run territory, reportedly rockets and mortars.

It also said an Israeli bus was hit by fire from the Gaza Strip.

The latest barrage of rockets comes following the death of an Israeli special-forces soldier who was killed during a covert mission in the Gaza Strip during the late Sunday night/early Monday morning hours.

The flareup came a day after an Israeli incursion prompted deadly fighting in the enclave and cast a new cloud over efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations to broker a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the dominant armed group in Gaza.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he hoped to reach an "arrangement" to avoid another conflict and ease Israeli-blockaded Gaza's economic hardships.

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Israel signalled that Sunday's mission did not go as planned and resulted in the clash, which Palestinian officials said included Israeli air strikes.

The IDF said later that the operation "was not meant to kill or abduct terrorists but to strengthen Israeli security", without specifying how.

Three Palestinian gunmen are reported to have been killed in the air attacks. Its military said in a short statement: "During an IDF [Israel Defence Forces] Special Forces operational activity in the Gaza Strip, an exchange of fire evolved".

Hamas said that during Sunday's fighting, assailants in a passing vehicle opened fire on a group of its armed men, killing one of its local commanders, Nour Baraka.

Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008 and recent unrest has raised fears of a fourth.

Israel's strikes on Gaza in turn led to the deaths of two civilians, Gaza's health ministry said.

Israeli media reported that the operation had been to gather intelligence.

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