JERUSALEM (AP) — Fighting between Israelis and Palestinians has escalated sharply, even as there is talk that Israeli leaders will suspend their offensive in the Gaza Strip during a visit by Egypt's prime minister.
Early Friday, 85 missiles exploded within 45 minutes in Gaza City, sending black pillars of smoke towering above the coastal strip's largest city. The Israeli military says it's targeting underground rocket-launching sites.
One missile flattened sections of the Interior Ministry, leaving a huge pile of rubble and another hit an uninhabited house belonging to a senior Hamas commander. Those strikes, together with an attack on a generator building near the home of Gaza's Hamas prime minister, signal that Israel is expanding its offensive beyond military targets.
Israel and Hamas had largely observed an informal truce since Israel's devastating incursion into Gaza four years ago, but rocket fire and Israeli airstrikes on militant operations continue sporadically.
The latest flare-up exploded into major violence Wednesday when Israel assassinated Hamas' military chief, following up with a punishing air assault meant to cripple the militants' ability to terrorize Israel with rockets.