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Death toll rises in Gaza, Israel as violence escalates

Death toll rises in Gaza, Israel as violence escalates
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The death toll from airstrikes in Gaza and rocket attacks in Israel reached at least 35 Wednesday morning as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas continued to engage in back-and-forth attacks. 

Reuters reported that recent Israeli bombing raids on Gaza have killed at least 35 people, with five in Israel dead following multiple rocket barrages from Hamas targeting Tel Aviv and the southern city of Beersheba. 

Among those killed were at least 10 children, with more than 200 others injured, according to Palestinian health officials. 

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The IDF said it had killed more than 15 militants by Wednesday morning, according to CNN. 

Rockets continued to be fired toward Tel Aviv Wednesday morning, with sirens heard warning of an incoming attack around 3 a.m. local time, CNN reported

The casualties come amid some of the most intense fighting between Israel and Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, since their war in 2014. 

The violence significantly escalated Tuesday as Hamas began launching hundreds of rockets from Gaza toward Tel Aviv, with footage shared by the IDF on Twitter showing its Iron Dome defense system overwhelmed as it attempted to intercept the rockets. 

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Hamas said it had launched the attacks after the IDF destroyed a 13-story building in Gaza earlier in the day. 

The IDF later confirmed that it had struck the building, which it said in a statement had been known to house offices used by Hamas political leadership, "including headquarters used for military research and development, military intelligence offices and more.” 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE following the Tuesday attacks by Hamas said in a nationally televised speech to the country that the militants would pay a “heavy price.” 

The escalating conflict has drawn international concern, with White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBiden, Macron huddle on sidelines of G7 summit Biden to host Germany's Merkel at the White House in July Psaki 'likely will stay longer' than year as White House press secretary MORE on Tuesday saying that President Biden condemned the rocket attacks by Hamas and also stands “against extremism that has inflicted violence on both communities.” 

Biden has attempted to pursue diplomacy to help achieve de-escalation, and a National Security Council spokesperson confirmed to The Hill Tuesday that Biden had sent a letter to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as part of the administration's "ongoing outreach with the Palestinian leadership on a range of issues of mutual interest, including ongoing efforts to de-escalate violence and restore calm.” 

The State Department announced that Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenPelosi signals no further action against Omar US drops sanctions on Iranian officials as nuclear talks stall Senior Chinese diplomat talks with Blinken amid debate over competitiveness bill MORE had spoken with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi on Tuesday and that Blinken had “expressed his concerns regarding rocket attacks on Israel and his condolences for the lives lost as a result.”

The secretary also “reiterated his call on all parties to deescalate tensions and bring a halt to the violence, which has claimed the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, including children,” according to a readout of the call.