Israel's military claimed its aircraft struck infrastructure in Gaza used by Hamas, which rules the coastal territory, after gunmen there continued to fire mortars at forces along the border.
The leader of Hamas in Gaza said on Friday the group was "not calling for war" with Israel and that Egypt and other parties were working behind the scenes to defuse the worst flare-up in violence since a 2014 conflict. "We are not calling for war, but we will not allow incursions at all," Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas's deputy chief, said at a mosque before Friday prayers. He added: "The resistance will not allow the establishment of a so-called buffer zone inside the borders of the Gaza Strip." Haniyeh said mediators from Egypt, Qatar, Turkey and the United Nations had been working to restore calm along Gaza's border and that in the meantime Israeli forces had pulled back.
On Wednesday clashes erupted between the Israeli army and Palestinians on the Israel-Gaza borders. Earlier in the day, the Israeli military said that a mortar projectile was shot at military forces that were located near its borders in southern Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza also reported Thursday that a woman was killed in the second day of the Israeli airstrike, the worst clashes between Israel and Hamas since the devastating 2014 war. "Zina al-Amour, 55, was killed when Israeli airplanes struck the al-Foukahre area in eastern Khan Younes city in the Gaza strip," the Ministry of Health said in a statement, "Al-Amour was instantly killed after she was hit by fragments from a missile fired by an Israeli aircraft," it said.
The flare-up has raised concerns over the fate of a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. In July and August of 2014, Israel waged a weeks-long military offensive against the Gaza Strip with the ostensible aim of staunching rocket fire from the coastal enclave. Over 2,160 Palestinians in Gaza, mostly civilians, were killed and some 11,000 injured in the 51-day onslaught.