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.
Israeli jets pounded targets in the Gaza Strip early Thursday, reportedly killing three people after Palestinian militants fired a barrage of rockets into Israel.
The Gaza Health Ministry say pregnant 23-year-old Enas Khammash and her 18-month daughter were killed in Jafarawi in central Gaza.
According to Haaretz, an Israeli official source said last week that ceasefire talks will not succeed unless the bodies of slain Israeli soldiers and two Israeli civilians being held captive in Gaza were returned.
It said about 150 rockets had been launched from Gaza towards Israeli territory.
The Israeli press reported that nine Israelis had been injured.More news: Third Strong Earthquake Shakes Indonesian Island as Death Toll Tops 300
A Palestinian official said on Thursday armed factions in Gaza were prepared to halt a round of rocket attacks on southern Israel if the Israeli military stopped its strikes after two days of cross-border violence.
The resistance responded to the enemy's crimes in Gaza.
Yuval Steinitz, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's inner cabinet, told Israel Radio: "We are not eager for war and are not interested in a broader confrontation but at the same time it could certainly happen because we will not make any concessions to Hamas".
"I am deeply alarmed by the recent escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel, and particularly by today's multiple rockets fired toward communities in southern Israel", said U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov in an overnight statement.
The two militants were killed after an Israeli tank fired on a Hamas observation post, responding to what it initially identified as gunfire against Israeli troops but was apparently part of a Hamas commando exercise.
A watchtower of the Qassam Brigades in Al Zaytun neighbourhood was targeted by the Israeli shelling.More news: China continues 'fair and lawful' business in Iran, despite USA sanctions
In the hours following the exchange, sirens sounded across Southern Israel in communities that surround the Gaza Strip, including Sderot.
Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations special envoy who is involved in Egyptian efforts to broker a truce, said in a statement on Thursday that he's "deeply alarmed" by "multiple rockets fired toward communities in southern Israel" the day before.
In southern Israel, two Thai laborers were among the seven wounded by rocket fire, and rockets damaged buildings in the cities of Sderot and Ashkelon.
A 30-year-old Hamas affiliate was killed in the strikes, Gaza Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qedra said.
One Israeli soldier has been shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.
The protests call for Palestinians to be able to return to the land they or their families fled or were expelled from in the 1948 war that established the state of Israel.More news: Category 3 Hurricane Hector roars in Pacific far from land
The strikes came after dozens of rockets were launched from the coastal enclave towards Israel late Wednesday.