Israeli Soldier Murdered By Palestinian Terrorist

A fireball explodes in Gaza City during Israeli bombardment.—AFP

At least four Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in a fresh round of attacks on the besieged enclave.

"The event that happened today is something that we can not tolerate and can not allow to become a routine norm, that's why we retaliated and that's why we continue to target military targets belonging to Hamas", Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said. Israeli warplanes pounded the Gaza Strip on Friday after a Palestinian sniper killed an Israeli soldier along the border fence.

The military wing of Hamas, the Islamist group that runs Gaza, named the three men as Shaban abu Khatar, Mohammed abu Farhana and Mahmoud Qushta, saying they were fighters.

"Hamas chose to escalate the security situation - and will bear the consequences for its actions", the IDF said in a statement.

Earlier Friday, Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman visited Sderot, an Israeli town near Gaza that has been hard hit by Palestinian rockets over the years.

The incident marked the first time an Israeli soldier had been killed during months of violence at the fence. The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned on Friday evening of Israel's current escalation policy at the borders of the Gaza Strip, demanding the global community to intervene.

Most were shot during demonstrations and clashes along the border, but others were killed in air strikes or by tank fire. Gaza was relatively quiet after midnight, residents said.

"Everyone in Gaza needs to step back from the brink", tweeted U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov, who is among those attempting to broker a cease-fire.

Israel said its aircraft and tanks had struck dozens of targets belonging to Hamas and across the Gaza Strip, including a drone warehouse, aerial-defence systems and observation posts.

Israel has been accused of using excessive force against Palestinian protesters, an allegation its leaders have denied.

Israel has said it wants to see Hamas stop launching flaming kites and balloons from Gaza as well as cease rocket and mortar fire and weekly violent protests at the border.

Khalil al-Hayya, Hamas's deputy chief in Gaza, said the kites would continue to fly.

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