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More Than 600 Rockets Fired At Israel In Latest Gaza Strip Conflict

Hundreds of rockets and other missiles have been fired at southern Israel in the latest conflict on the Gaza strip. 

At least 150 missiles were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system, according to the nation's military.

The system, developed in 2011, automatically senses when a missile has been sent towards the area and responds with dispatching a round of rockets into the sky. The rockets try to intercept the incoming enemy missiles and knock them out of the sky before they can land.

In response to Gaza's attacks, Israel said it hit more than 260 targets belonging to the militant group Hamas.

More than 20 people have been killed during the fighting since Friday -- most were civilians. Four people were killed from Israel while 19 Palestinians lost their lives. Reuters reports a couple and their baby daughter also perished.

Eight Gaza militants were also identified among the dead.

Gaza Missiles
Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system deflected 150 rockets. Image: Reuters.

A rocket that hit a house in Ashkelon on Sunday killed a 58-year-old man, police said. He was the first such Israeli civilian fatality since the seven-week Gaza war in 2014.

Another rocket strike killed a factory worker, a hospital official said. The military said a civilian was killed near the border by an anti-tank missile fired at his car from Gaza and a fourth died when a rocket struck the city of Ashdod.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh issued a statement late on Sunday saying his group was not seeking a broader conflict and held out the possibility of a ceasefire, although sirens warning of rocket fire continued to sound in Israeli cities into the night.

READ MORE: Mourners Shot On Gaza Border As They Bury Dead

Gaza Missiles
Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system shoots down missiles. Image: Reuters.

A spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General on the situation in Gaza condemned the fighting in the region.

"The Secretary-General is following with deep concern the latest security developments in Gaza, and the risk of yet another dangerous escalation and further loss of life on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan," the spokesperson said in a statement.

"He condemns in the strongest terms the launching of rockets from Gaza into Israel, particularly the targeting of civilian population centres. He urges all parties to exercise maximum restraint, immediately de-escalate and return to the understandings of the past few months."

US Vice President Mike Pence reiterated Washington’s support for Israel, saying in a message on Twitter: “We strongly condemn the attacks in Gaza by Hamas terrorists. Israel has the absolute right to defend itself & the U.S. stands by our great ally Israel.”

READ MORE: 58 Palestinians Killed In Protest As U.S. Embassy Is Moved To Jerusalem

The surge in conflict comes as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins on Monday. The month is traditionally a time for prayer and family feasts. Muslims fast during daylight hours and eat and shop together after dark.

With Reuters. 

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au