Israel strikes Gaza, closes both border crossings after rocket attack

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Screen Capture

The rocket was the first to hit an Israeli home since the 2014 war between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers.

The top Egyptian official was scheduled to visit Ramallah and the Gaza Strip on Thursday as part of Cairo's effort to avert a military confrontation between Israel and Hamas.

The Israeli police said that "a rocket struck the city of Beersheba a few moments ago causing damage", although it did not specify the extent of the destruction.

The family of three children escaped injury but were treated for shock at the scene, Israeli media reported.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the Israeli army, said at a press briefing that the rocket fired was a "midrange, locally produced rocket possessed only by two groups in Gaza, Hamas and Islamic Jihad".

The army said it was investigating why the Iron Dome missile defense system was not activated in response to the incoming rocket fire.

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Keren Kayemet L'Israel - the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) also said attacks from arson balloons and kites from Gaza since April have destroyed more than half of the forested areas surrounding the border with Gaza.

A Palestinian source told Israel's Kan state broadcaster that Egyptian officials called and said a new date for Kamel's visit would be set in the coming days, after Wednesday saw rockets fired from the Strip at Israel, and at least 20 IDF airstrikes in response.

"At 4 am (0100 GMT), Israelis in the city of Beersheba were running to bomb shelters after a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip at Israel", the army tweeted.

Residents in Gaza said the aircraft targeted three locations, but there were no initial reports of casualties.

Lieberman earlier called for war on Gaza to restore calm as Israel faces an escalation in violence along its southern border and beyond.

It also reduced the permitted fishing zone along the Gaza coast to three nautical miles.

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It had seen thousands of litres (gallons) of fuel paid for by Qatar delivered to generate desperately needed power in the impoverished territory. Israel holds Hamas - which controls Gaza - responsible for everything that happens in the coastal enclave.

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

Egypt, together with United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Nikolay Mladenov, has recently played a key role in attempting to broker a ceasefire between Israel and armed groups in Gaza. In addition, the IDF identified an attempted rocket launch in northern Gaza and struck the launcher before the rocket was sacked.

The European Union, in a statement from Brussels, said indiscriminate attacks against civilians were completely unacceptable and mortar and rocket fire by Palestinian militants must stop immediately. "Majority turned back into Gaza, but three of them continued to move on toward a military outpost, where they were shot and killed".

The rocket attack comes as an Egyptian delegation arrived in Gaza on Tuesday led by Ahmed Abdul Khaleq, an intelligence official in charge of the Palestinian file.

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