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srael conducted dozens of air strikes on the Gaza Strip on Monday, after Palestinian militants fired barrages of rockets at southern Israeli cities.

The pre-dawn raids on Gaza were some of the heaviest seen since the fighting began a week ago.

Israel said it hit facilities belonging to the militant group Hamas and several commanders’ homes, but main roads and power lines were also damaged.

There were no immediate reports of casualties following the strikes.

People in Gaza have told of their fear. “I was getting ready to die. I had to be at peace with it,” Najla Shawa, a Palestinian humanitarian worker and mother of two, told the BBC.

Describing previous air strikes over the weekend, she said: “People we know [were killed], people we work with… ordinary people, professional people, young and old.”

The Israeli military said more than 50 warplanes conducted a 20-minute attack on the Gaza Strip shortly before dawn on Monday.

They struck 35 “terror targets” and destroyed more than 15km (9.3 miles) of an underground tunnel network belonging to Hamas, it added.

The military also said it had hit the homes of nine “high-ranking” Hamas commanders. Israeli soldiers also fired artillery from positions near the Gaza border.

The fighting began after weeks of rising Israeli-Palestinian tension in occupied East Jerusalem that culminated in clashes at a holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews. Hamas, which controls Gaza, began firing rockets after warning Israel to withdraw from the site, triggering retaliatory air strikes.

Israel says more than 3,000 rockets have been fired into the country over the past week.

On Monday, rocket warning sirens sounded again, in several areas around southern Israel. One rocket hit an apartment building in the city of Ashdod and several people were reportedly hurt.

Palestinian officials in Gaza, meanwhile, said the overnight strikes had caused widespread power cuts and damaged hundreds of homes and other buildings.

“Slept for 3 hours – we are physically safe but had one of the [most] difficult nights,” one resident wrote on Twitter.

The overall death toll in the territory now stands at 200, including 59 children and 35 women, with 1,305 injured, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Israel says more than 130 militants are among the dead – but Hamas has not recognised this.

 

 

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