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Israeli military, Palestinian militants exchange fire as ‘ceasefire’ nears

Jerusalem : Tens of rockets were fired by Palestinian militants into Israel, in response, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched airstrikes against Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) targets in the Gaza Strip.

The exchange of fire came on early Wednesday evening just hours before a reported ceasefire is expected to come into effect.

The IDF said rockets were fired at several cities in southern and central Israel, including the country’s financial hub Tel Aviv.

About 300 rockets were fired into Israel on Wednesday, according to the IDF, adding that at least 60 rockets were intercepted by air defense systems and tens of others failed to reach targets within Israel. The IDF also announced it struck at over 100 targets in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli emergency services said no injuries were reported during the afternoon barrage, with several people treated for anxiety.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held security consultations throughout Wednesday. Reports in several local media outlets suggested a ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza militants has been reached through Egyptian mediation. According to those reports, it will come into effect late Wednesday.

However, Netanyahu said his country’s offensive against the Gaza Strip “is not over yet,” despite media reports on an impending ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

He gave a televised address from the Israeli Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv on Wednesday evening, praising Israeli air defense systems managed to intercept many of the hundreds of rockets fired by Palestinian militants into Israel on Wednesday.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also gave an address, saying he hopes the operation will bring to an end soon.

The exchange of fire came after an Israeli airstrike on Tuesday in the Gaza Strip killed three senior PIJ leaders.

The Gaza-based joint chamber of military operations of Palestinian factions claimed responsibility for launching hundreds of missiles to Israel on Wednesday. The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza reported 21 people were killed since Tuesday and 64 Palestinians injured.

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