The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said the violence broke out after militants shot at an IDF vehicle in Gaza on Wednesday. Approximately 70 rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip at Israel, the IDF said, adding that the Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted 11 launches, with the majority of the projectiles striking open areas.
Israel's rescue service Magen David Adom said seven Israelis, including two men ages 34 and 20, were taken to a hospital for treatment.
On Thursday, the IDF destroyed a five-story building allegedly housing Hamas' internal security service and offices of the group's senior officials.in response to a rocket fired at Beersheba, almost 40km from the border with Gaza. Palestinian media reported airstrikes continued through the night into Thursday morning.
A senior IDF officer told Army Radio on Thursday morning that he saw a new full-scale war with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip as inevitable.
At least three Palestinians were reportedly killed by the strikes, including 23-year-old Inas Khamash, who was pregnant at the time, and her one-year-old daughter, Bayan Khamash. At least five other civilians were also wounded.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called off a trip to Colombia this week to attend to the Gaza truce talks and was due to meet with security chiefs for late-night consultations.
Injuries were also reported on both sides.
A Ma'an reporter said that loud explosions were heard in the city of Rafah, which was caused by the launching of Israeli missiles towards various sites belonging to the Hamas movement.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the rocket attack and a tweet issued by a spokesman for the militant group, Abdullatif al-Kanoo, was translated by Al Jazeera as saying that the Palestinian resistance "is in self-defense and has a duty to respond to the aggression against our people".
A 30-year-old Hamas affiliate was killed in the strikes, Gaza Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qedra said.
A senior IDF officer referred to the escalation in Gaza overnight Thursday and said that "We've had a round of escalation whose end I do not see".
A woman was seriously injured when a rocket exploded in a house, launched from the Gaza Strip, in the Eshkol Regional Council, near the coastal enclave controlled by the Islamic terrorist group Hamas.
One Israeli soldier has been shot dead by a Palestinian sniper during the same period, while incendiary devices attached to balloons and kites launched by Palestinians have sparked hundreds of fires in southern Israel, burning some 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of forest and farmland.
Hamas has been the de facto ruling party in Gaza since winning contested Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006.
The strikes come in retaliation for a six-hour barrage of rockets which forced thousands of Israelis to seek shelter along Gaza border towns.
Hamas warned Israel - with which it has fought three wars since 2008 - it would pay for the attack.
Neither the United Nations nor Egypt has publicly discussed its plans for a renewed Gaza cease-fire, but they said it would bring economic relief to Gaza's 2 million residents experiencing shortages under crippling blockades.