Fighting continues to escalate over the Israeli-Gazan border as of Sunday, May 5, with Gazan militants firing over 600 rockets and other projectiles at Israel since Friday, May 3. The rocket launches have prompted some 320 retaliatory Israel Defense Forces (IDF) strikes on suspected Gazan militant targets. At least four Israelis and around 23 Palestinians - including several militants, notably Hamas commander Ahmed al-Khodary - have been killed in the exchange. Rocket sirens continued to blare in Israeli communities near the Israeli-Gazan border as of Sunday evening (local time). Schools and some roads remained closed in southern Israel on Sunday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly instructed the IDF to continue "massive strikes" targeting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) militants; the Israeli Cabinet told the military to "continue its attacks and to stand by" for additional orders as of Sunday evening. These commands reportedly come as Egyptian mediators attempt to negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and Gazan militant groups to enter effect by 11:59 on Sunday. For his part, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh claimed late on Sunday that Hamas was not seeking a larger cross-border conflict and that de-escalation is possible pending Israel halting strikes on the Gaza Strip.
Despite such negotiations, additional cross-border exchanges are to be expected over the coming hours.
This flare-up in tensions comes after a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) sniper firing from the Gazan side of the Israeli-Gazan border wounded two Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops on the Israeli side on May 3. Israeli forces retaliated by launching an airstrike, killing two Hamas militants; Israeli troops also reportedly killed two Palestinian protesters participating in the weekly Friday demonstrations - part of the "Great March of Return" movement - along the Israeli-Gazan border.
In general, rocket fire and strikes between Israel and the Gaza Strip have intensified since early December 2017. Hundreds of rockets and mortars have been fired from the Gaza Strip, often followed by retaliatory Israeli airstrikes.
Individuals present in Israel and the Palestinian Territories are advised to monitor developments to the situation and seek immediate shelter in the event of a rocket attack.
Due to the extant terrorist threat, travelers in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip are advised to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities. Some Western governments advise their citizens against all travel to the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and areas near the Israeli-Lebanese, Israeli-Syrian, and Israeli-Egyptian borders.
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