ISRAELI warplanes struck dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip, killing three people, while Palestinian militants fired scores of rockets into Israel in a fierce burst of violence.

The flare-up comes as Egypt is trying to broker a long-term ceasefire between the two sides.

At least three Palestinians died, a pregnant woman, her one-year-old daughter and a Hamas militant, the Gaza Health Ministry said.

On the Israeli side, at least seven people were wounded.

It was not clear if the escalation, the latest in a series of intense exchanges of fire in recent months, would derail the indirect negotiations between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas militant rulers.

The incident occurred while Hamas leaders from abroad were visiting Gaza to discuss ceases-fire efforts with local leaders.

A top Hamas official said the group waited for the delegation to leave Gaza before responding with rocket fire late on Wednesday.

The Israeli military said over 150 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel, and Israel carried out over 140 airstrikes targeting Hamas militant positions.

In southern Israel, two Thai labourers were among the seven wounded by rocket fire, and rockets damaged buildings in the cities of Sderot and Ashkelon.

Israeli Cabinet minister Yoav Galant, said that “whatever is needed to be done to defend our civilians and soldiers, will be done, no matter what would be the price in Gaza”.