Israel, Hamas trade heavy fire after deadly incursion

Israel, Hamas trade heavy fire after deadly incursion
An Israeli soldier stands near a burning bus after it was hit by a mortar shell fired from Gaza near the Israel Gaza border, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Israeli media say six people were wounded by Palestinian fire, including a 19-year-old who was critically hurt when a mortar shell hit the bus. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov) (Tsafrir Abayov)

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Palestinian militants bombarded Israel with dozens of rockets and mortar shells Monday, while Israeli warplanes struck targets throughout the Gaza Strip in what appeared to be the most intense exchange of fire since a 2014 war.

Palestinian officials said at least three people, including two militants, were killed by Israeli fire and nine were wounded, and an Israeli airstrike destroyed the ruling Hamas group's TV station. In Israel, the national rescue service said at least 20 people were wounded, including a 19-year-old soldier and a 60-year-old woman who were in critical condition.

Early Tuesday, Israeli media reported that a man was found dead under the rubble of a building in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon hit by Gaza rockets.

Gaza's health ministry, meanwhile, said a 22-year-old Palestinian who was wounded in an earlier airstrike died, putting the Palestinian death toll since the current flare-up started late Sunday to 11, the majority of them militants.

The fighting cast doubt over recent understandings brokered by Egypt and U.N. officials to reduce tensions. Just a day earlier, Israel's prime minister had defended those understandings, saying he was doing everything possible to avoid another war.

An explosion caused by Israeli airstrikes on Al-Rahma building in Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Palestinian militants on Monday fired dozens of rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel, and the Israeli military responded by dispatching fighter jets to strike throughout the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
An explosion caused by Israeli airstrikes on Al-Rahma building in Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Palestinian militants on Monday fired dozens of rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel, and the Israeli military responded by dispatching fighter jets to strike throughout the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Adel Hana) (AP)

The United Nations said it was working with Egypt to broker a halt in the violence. "Rockets must STOP, restraint must be shown by all!" the U.N. Mideast envoy's office tweeted.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, meanwhile, urged Israel and the Palestinians "to exercise maximum restraint," according to a statement.

Thousands of mourners in the Gaza Strip have buried seven Palestinian militants killed in an Israeli incursion into the territory.
Thousands of mourners in the Gaza Strip have buried seven Palestinian militants killed in an Israeli incursion into the territory. (AP)

The rocket fire was triggered by a botched Israeli military raid in Gaza on Sunday. Undercover troops, apparently on a reconnaissance mission, were discovered inside Gaza on Sunday, setting off a battle that left seven militants, including a Hamas commander, and an Israeli military officer dead.

Around sundown Monday, militants launched some 100 rockets in less than an hour, the most intense barrage since the 50-day war four years ago. The outgoing rockets, which continued into the evening, lit up the skies of Gaza and set off air raid sirens throughout southern Israel.

Smoke rises from a mortar attack by Gaza militants on Israel, in Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Palestinian militants on Monday fired dozens of rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel, critically wounding an Israeli teen, in an intense barrage of projectiles aimed at seeking revenge for a deadly Israeli military incursion late Sunday. The Israeli military responded by dispatching fighter jets to strike throughout the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Smoke rises from a mortar attack by Gaza militants on Israel, in Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Palestinian militants on Monday fired dozens of rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel, critically wounding an Israeli teen, in an intense barrage of projectiles aimed at seeking revenge for a deadly Israeli military incursion late Sunday. The Israeli military responded by dispatching fighter jets to strike throughout the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Adel Hana) (AP)

By early Tuesday, at least 300 rockets had been launched from Gaza, the Israeli military said, adding that up to 70 of them were intercepted by the anti-missile defense system Iron Dome.

The military said warplanes, helicopters and tanks had struck over 70 militant targets, including military compounds, observation posts and weapons facilities. It also said it targeted a squad that was launching rockets.

Palestinian mourners carry the bodies of two of the seven Hamas militants who were killed in an Israeli raid late Sunday, during their funerals in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Thousands of mourners in the Gaza Strip buried seven Palestinians, including a local Hamas commander, killed after an Israeli incursion into the territory, which also killed one Israeli army officer. The cross-border fighting came just days after Israel and Hamas reached indirect deals, backed by Qatar and Egypt, to allow cash and fuel into Gaza. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinian mourners carry the bodies of two of the seven Hamas militants who were killed in an Israeli raid late Sunday, during their funerals in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Thousands of mourners in the Gaza Strip buried seven Palestinians, including a local Hamas commander, killed after an Israeli incursion into the territory, which also killed one Israeli army officer. The cross-border fighting came just days after Israel and Hamas reached indirect deals, backed by Qatar and Egypt, to allow cash and fuel into Gaza. (AP Photo/Adel Hana) (AP)

The airstrikes and rocket barrages resumed at dawn after nearly two hours of calm.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said the army had sent additional infantry troops, rocket defense systems and intelligence units to the Gaza frontier.

Palestinian rockets cross the sky after militants attack an Israeli bus with a mortar, in Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. The Israeli military says a bus has been hit by fire from the Gaza Strip as air raid sirens sound throughout southern Israel. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinian rockets cross the sky after militants attack an Israeli bus with a mortar, in Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. The Israeli military says a bus has been hit by fire from the Gaza Strip as air raid sirens sound throughout southern Israel. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa) (AP)

"We continue to strike and retaliate against the military targets belonging to terrorist organizations in Gaza, and as for our intentions we will enhance these efforts as needed," he told reporters.

Late Monday, an airstrike destroyed the Gaza City headquarters of Hamas' Al Aqsa TV station. Israel had fired warning shots ahead of the airstrike, prompting the station to halt programming and replace it with a logo. Minutes later, the airstrike flattened the three-story building and the station went black.

Israeli soldiers take cover near the Israel Gaza border, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. The Israeli military said it has dispatched fighter jets to strike "terror targets" throughout Gaza following a barrage of mortar and rocket fire that wounded six people. The attacks from Gaza appeared to be an act of revenge after a botched Israeli raid the day before killed seven Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Israeli soldiers take cover near the Israel Gaza border, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. The Israeli military said it has dispatched fighter jets to strike "terror targets" throughout Gaza following a barrage of mortar and rocket fire that wounded six people. The attacks from Gaza appeared to be an act of revenge after a botched Israeli raid the day before killed seven Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov) (AP)

Workers had evacuated the building after the warning shots, and there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum condemned the bombing as "a barbaric, brazen aggression." Ten minutes later, the station resumed broadcasts, airing prerecorded national songs.

Israeli soldiers take cover near the Israel Gaza border, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. The Israeli military said it has dispatched fighter jets to strike "terror targets" throughout Gaza following a barrage of mortar and rocket fire that wounded six people. The attacks from Gaza appeared to be an act of revenge after a botched Israeli raid the day before killed seven Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Israeli soldiers take cover near the Israel Gaza border, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. The Israeli military said it has dispatched fighter jets to strike "terror targets" throughout Gaza following a barrage of mortar and rocket fire that wounded six people. The attacks from Gaza appeared to be an act of revenge after a botched Israeli raid the day before killed seven Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov) (AP)

Israel said the station "broadcasts violent propaganda" and provides "operational messaging" to militants. A five-story office building that housed Hamas media offices and another building used by Hamas' internal security service were also destroyed. No casualties were reported.

Hamas and the smaller militant group Islamic Jihad said the rocket fire was revenge for Sunday night's Israeli incursion. Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shehab said the groups wanted "the occupation and its supporters know that the lives of our sons come with a price."

Smoke rises following Israeli strikes on Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Palestinian militants on Monday fired dozens of rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel, critically wounding an Israeli teen, in an intense barrage of projectiles aimed at seeking revenge for a deadly Israeli military incursion late Sunday. The Israeli military responded by dispatching fighter jets to strike throughout the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Smoke rises following Israeli strikes on Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Palestinian militants on Monday fired dozens of rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel, critically wounding an Israeli teen, in an intense barrage of projectiles aimed at seeking revenge for a deadly Israeli military incursion late Sunday. The Israeli military responded by dispatching fighter jets to strike throughout the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Adel Hana) (AP)

In all, well over 300 rockets were fired into Israel by midnight, the army said. The Israeli military said it intercepted 70 rockets, and most of the others fell in open spaces. But rockets landed in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, setting off a large fire near a shopping center. Several homes were hit in southern towns, including one that was destroyed in Ashkelon. Around midnight, a rocket struck another building in Ashkelon, wounding at least 10 people, including one woman in critical condition, according to police and rescue workers.

Earlier, a bus was struck by an anti-tank missile, critically wounding a 19-year-old soldier. The strike set the bus on fire, sending a large plume of black smoke over the area. Gaza militants released a video of what they said was the attack, showing a bus pulling up to an open area before going up in flames. The video, with ominous music playing, showed Israeli soldiers milling about the area.

Smoke rises following Israeli strikes on Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Palestinian militants on Monday fired dozens of rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel, critically wounding an Israeli teen, in an intense barrage of projectiles aimed at seeking revenge for a deadly Israeli military incursion late Sunday. The Israeli military responded by dispatching fighter jets to strike throughout the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Adel Hana) (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Smoke rises following Israeli strikes on Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Palestinian militants on Monday fired dozens of rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel, critically wounding an Israeli teen, in an intense barrage of projectiles aimed at seeking revenge for a deadly Israeli military incursion late Sunday. The Israeli military responded by dispatching fighter jets to strike throughout the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Adel Hana) (AP Photo/Adel Hana) (AP)

Michael Oren, an Israeli Cabinet minister, said Israel "will do whatever it takes" to defend itself. "We expect the world to stand with us," he said.

The EU's ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, called for a halt in "indiscriminate" rocket fire toward civilians. "Everyone must step back from the brink," he said.

Children check out a crater and the wreckage of vehicles destroyed by an Israeli raid that killed seven Hamas Palestinian militants late Sunday, east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Chanting "revenge" and flanked by masked gunmen in camouflage, thousands of mourners in the Gaza Strip on Monday buried the seven who were killed in the Israeli incursion as the ruling Hamas group launched a feverish security sweep across the territory. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Children check out a crater and the wreckage of vehicles destroyed by an Israeli raid that killed seven Hamas Palestinian militants late Sunday, east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Chanting "revenge" and flanked by masked gunmen in camouflage, thousands of mourners in the Gaza Strip on Monday buried the seven who were killed in the Israeli incursion as the ruling Hamas group launched a feverish security sweep across the territory. (AP Photo/Adel Hana) (AP)

Earlier Monday, thousands of Palestinian mourners buried the seven militants killed in Sunday's incursion. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh led a funeral as masked gunmen in uniforms carried coffins and mourners chanted "revenge."

Hamas set up checkpoints across Gaza in a show of force. It also restricted movement through crossings with Israel, preventing foreign journalists, local businessmen and some aid workers from leaving the territory.

Palestinian mourners carry the bodies of two of the seven Hamas militants who were killed in an Israeli raid late Sunday, during their funerals in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Thousands of mourners in the Gaza Strip buried seven Palestinians, including a local Hamas commander, killed after an Israeli incursion into the territory, which also killed one Israeli army officer. The cross-border fighting came just days after Israel and Hamas reached indirect deals, backed by Qatar and Egypt, to allow cash and fuel into Gaza. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinian mourners carry the bodies of two of the seven Hamas militants who were killed in an Israeli raid late Sunday, during their funerals in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Thousands of mourners in the Gaza Strip buried seven Palestinians, including a local Hamas commander, killed after an Israeli incursion into the territory, which also killed one Israeli army officer. The cross-border fighting came just days after Israel and Hamas reached indirect deals, backed by Qatar and Egypt, to allow cash and fuel into Gaza. (AP Photo/Adel Hana) (AP)

Hamas also canceled a weekly beach protest in northwestern Gaza along the border with Israel. The organizers cited "the ongoing security situation."

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the Islamic militant group seized control of Gaza from the internationally-backed Palestinian Authority in 2007. In the most recent war, over 2,200 Palestinians were killed, more than half of them civilians, and tens of thousands were left homeless. Seventy-three people were killed on the Israeli side.

Mourners chant Islamic slogans while carrying the body of Hamas militant commander Nour el-Deen Barakas, who was killed during an Israeli raid late Sunday, during his funeral, at his family house in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Thousands of mourners in the Gaza Strip buried seven Palestinians, including Barakas, killed after an Israeli incursion into the territory, which also killed one Israeli army officer. The cross-border fighting came just days after Israel and Hamas reached indirect deals, backed by Qatar and Egypt, to allow cash and fuel into Gaza. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Mourners chant Islamic slogans while carrying the body of Hamas militant commander Nour el-Deen Barakas, who was killed during an Israeli raid late Sunday, during his funeral, at his family house in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Thousands of mourners in the Gaza Strip buried seven Palestinians, including Barakas, killed after an Israeli incursion into the territory, which also killed one Israeli army officer. The cross-border fighting came just days after Israel and Hamas reached indirect deals, backed by Qatar and Egypt, to allow cash and fuel into Gaza. (AP Photo/Adel Hana) (AP)

Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on Gaza since the Hamas takeover. The blockade has devastated Gaza's economy.

For over seven months, Hamas has been leading protests along the Israeli border aimed in large part at breaking the blockade. More than 170 Palestinians, most unarmed, have been killed by Israeli fire during the protests. Israel says it is defending its border against militant infiltration attempts.

Mourners carry the body of Hamas militant commander Nour el-Deen Barakas, who was killed during an Israeli raid late Sunday, during his funeral, at his family house in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Thousands of mourners in the Gaza Strip buried seven Palestinians, including Barakas, killed after an Israeli incursion into the territory, which also killed one Israeli army officer. The cross-border fighting came just days after Israel and Hamas reached indirect deals, backed by Qatar and Egypt, to allow cash and fuel into Gaza. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Mourners carry the body of Hamas militant commander Nour el-Deen Barakas, who was killed during an Israeli raid late Sunday, during his funeral, at his family house in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Thousands of mourners in the Gaza Strip buried seven Palestinians, including Barakas, killed after an Israeli incursion into the territory, which also killed one Israeli army officer. The cross-border fighting came just days after Israel and Hamas reached indirect deals, backed by Qatar and Egypt, to allow cash and fuel into Gaza. (AP Photo/Adel Hana) (AP)

In recent weeks, Egyptian and U.N. mediators had appeared to make progress in brokering informal understandings aimed at quieting the situation.

Last week, Israel allowed Qatar to deliver $15 million to Gaza to allow cash-strapped Hamas to pay the salaries of thousands of government workers. At the same time, Hamas has lowered the intensity of the border protests in recent weeks.

Israeli firefighters work at the scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit in Sderot, Israel, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Israel's military says it is prepared to step up its efforts against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip if rocket fire at Israel continues. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Israeli firefighters work at the scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit in Sderot, Israel, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Israel's military says it is prepared to step up its efforts against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip if rocket fire at Israel continues. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov) (AP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a visit to Paris because of the flare-up and returned to Israel on Monday for consultations with top security officials.

The Hamas military wing said that in Sunday's incursion, Israeli undercover forces drove about 3 kilometers (2 miles) into southeastern Gaza and shot and killed a mid-level commander in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis. Hamas militants discovered the car and chased it, prompting Israeli airstrikes that killed several people, the group said.

An Israeli soldier stands near a burning bus after it was hit by a mortar shell fired from Gaza near the Israel Gaza border, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Israel's military says it is prepared to step up its efforts against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip if rocket fire at Israel continues. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
An Israeli soldier stands near a burning bus after it was hit by a mortar shell fired from Gaza near the Israel Gaza border, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Israel's military says it is prepared to step up its efforts against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip if rocket fire at Israel continues. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov) (AP)

The military provided few details about Sunday's raid. The Israeli military chief, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, said a "special force" carried out "a very meaningful operation to Israel's security," without elaborating.

In a tweet after his arrival back home, Netanyahu praised the slain officer, whose identity was kept confidential for security reasons, and said "our forces acted courageously." The officer's funeral was held Monday.

Israeli firefighters work at the scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit in Sderot, Israel, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Israel's military says it is prepared to step up its efforts against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip if rocket fire at Israel continues. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Israeli firefighters work at the scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit in Sderot, Israel, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Israel's military says it is prepared to step up its efforts against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip if rocket fire at Israel continues. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov) (AP)

On Sunday, Netanyahu defended his decision to allow through the Qatari cash to Gaza as a way to avert an "unnecessary war," maintain quiet for residents of southern Israel and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in the impoverished Gaza Strip.

___

Flares fired from Israeli forces light up the night sky in Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, as the Israeli military launched fighter jets to strike "terror targets" throughout the Gaza Strip. Palestinian militants on Monday fired dozens of rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel, critically wounding an Israeli teen, in an intense barrage aimed at seeking revenge for a deadly Israeli military incursion late Sunday. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Flares fired from Israeli forces light up the night sky in Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, as the Israeli military launched fighter jets to strike "terror targets" throughout the Gaza Strip. Palestinian militants on Monday fired dozens of rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel, critically wounding an Israeli teen, in an intense barrage aimed at seeking revenge for a deadly Israeli military incursion late Sunday. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa) (AP)

Associated Press writer Fares Akram reported in Gaza City and AP writer Josef Federman reported from Jerusalem. AP writer Isabel DeBre in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

Smoke rises following Israeli strikes on Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Palestinian militants on Monday fired dozens of rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel, critically wounding an Israeli teen, in an intense barrage aimed at seeking revenge for a deadly Israeli military incursion late Sunday. The Israeli military responded by dispatching fighter jets to strike throughout the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Smoke rises following Israeli strikes on Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Palestinian militants on Monday fired dozens of rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel, critically wounding an Israeli teen, in an intense barrage aimed at seeking revenge for a deadly Israeli military incursion late Sunday. The Israeli military responded by dispatching fighter jets to strike throughout the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa) (AP)
Israeli forces' flares light up the night sky in Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, and the Israeli military said it has dispatched fighter jets to strike "terror targets" throughout Gaza following a barrage of mortar and rocket fire attack on an Israeli bus that wounded six people. The attacks from Gaza appeared to be an act of revenge after a botched Israeli raid the day before killed seven Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Israeli forces' flares light up the night sky in Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, and the Israeli military said it has dispatched fighter jets to strike "terror targets" throughout Gaza following a barrage of mortar and rocket fire attack on an Israeli bus that wounded six people. The attacks from Gaza appeared to be an act of revenge after a botched Israeli raid the day before killed seven Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa) (AP)