At least three Palestinians، including a pregnant woman and her 18-month-old child، were killed by Israeli air attacks and artillery shelling on the besieged Gaza Strip، according to the Palestinian health ministry، media reports said.
The Israeli military said it launched the attacks late on Wednesday after about 150 rockets were fired from the coastal enclave، injuring at least six people in Israel.
Israel's military on Thursday warned Hamas against a further escalation in violence، and Israeli media said officials were considering evacuating residents from areas near the Gaza border.
"The way things continue to play out is significant. Hamas will understand in the coming hours، as in the past months، that this is not the direction it wants to choose،" a senior military official was quoted as saying on the military's Twitter account.
The Palestinian news agency WAFA، citing health sources، reported at least 12 Palestinians were wounded. A member of the Hamas' armed wing was also killed.
The heavy exchange of fire comes as attempts to secure a ceasefire were reportedly making progress.
Israeli forces said in a statement about 150 rockets were fired from Gaza and at least 25 had been intercepted.
A statement by Hamas' military force said it was responsible for the rockets. It said the Palestinian "resistance" had fired a large number of projectiles at "enemy positions in the Gaza envelope".
Sirens sounded in Israeli areas near Gaza، warning residents to seek immediate shelter، the Israeli army said.
Abdullatif al-Kanoo، a spokesperson for Hamas، said in a Twitter post on Thursday: "In regards to the continuing [Israeli] aggression …The Palestinian resistance is in self-defense and has a duty to respond to the aggression against our people."
"The escalation of the barbaric shelling of Gaza and the deliberate targeting of civilians [by Israel] is premeditated and the [Israeli] occupation will suffer the repercussions and pay a higher price for its crimes،" he continued.