JERUSALEM/GAZA: Rockets attacks into Israel and its response with air strikes on Wednesday despite talk from both sides advance toward a conceivable détente to turn away a fourth war in 10 years.
A senior member of Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls Gaza, said talks mediated by the United Nations and Egypt on a deal to tamp down tensions were in “advanced stages”. The remarks were echoed by a top Israeli lawmaker, suggesting a possible breakthrough after four months of confrontations and clashes that stirred mutual threats of war.
According to Israeli media reports, several residents of Sderot and other border towns were wounded by rocket fire.
In Gaza, one Hamas extremists were killed in the air strikes, as was a Palestinian woman and her 18 month old child, Palestinian officials said. At least five other civilians were also wounded.
“I am deeply alarmed by the recent escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel, and particularly by today’s multiple rockets fired toward communities in southern Israel,” said U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov in an overnight statement.
The U.N., he said, has engaged with Egypt in an “unprecedented effort” to avoid serious conflict, but warned “the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people.”
Gaza has been controlled by Hamas for more than a decade, during which time it has fought three wars against Israel, most recently in 2014. Though neither side appears keen on another full-blown conflict.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called off a trip to Colombia this week to attend to the Gaza truce talks and was due to convene his decision-making security cabinet on Thursday to discuss the situation.