Israeli military strikes Gazans who launched burning balloons into Israel

Deputy Minister of Diplomacy MK Michael Oren

Following the rocket attack, schools were closed in Beersheba and in the communities immediately surrounding the Gaza Strip and residents of the Gaza periphery were barred from holding gatherings of more than 300 people outdoors and 500 people indoors.

"We will defend Israeli civilians", it added.

According to the IDF, 2,000 Palestinians demonstrated for several hours near the border in northern Gaza.

The rocket attack on Beersheba was the first in months and the first that hit an Israeli home there since the 2014 summer war between Israel and Gaza's militant Hamas rulers.

Israel struck almost two dozen Hamas military targets throughout Gaza, Conricus added.

The Magen David Adom rescue service said a mother and three children in the home were being treated for shock symptoms.

An Egyptian security delegation was visiting the Gaza Strip to try to restore calm.

In addition to sporadic incidents, Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the past 10 years.

The attacks came a day after Egyptian mediators started a round of talks with officials from the Hamas Islamist group that controls Gaza, as part of efforts to negotiate a long-term ceasefire after months of violence along the border with Israel.

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The recent disturbances on the Israeli-Gaza border have been caused by continued shelling and the launch of arson balloons by Hamas militants into Israeli territories.

COGAT, the defence ministry body responsible for Palestinian civil affairs, said Mr Lieberman had ordered the closure of the Kerem Shalom goods crossing and the Erez crossing for people, as well as the reduction of the permitted fishing zone along the Gaza coast to three nautical miles.

He also suspended shipments of fuel that had been trucked daily into Gaza over the previous week under a deal brokered by the UN and backed by the United States, Israel and others.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed a devastating response to the continuing border crisis during a weekend cabinet meeting.

"If it has any sense, Hamas will cease its fire and violent outbursts - now", he said.

On Monday night, some 5,000 of Hamas-led Gazans streamed back to the border with Israel to once again resume their attempts to tear apart the security fence that maintains the boundary, in their fervor to carry out attacks on IDF soldiers and Jews living nearby.

Hardliners Lieberman and Bennett have competed since late September over who might deliver the harshest statements on Israel's military action in Gaza, after Bennett claimed the Israeli response to the protests had been too weak.

In Israel, the fiery threats against Hamas have been coupled with concern over being dragged into an unnecessary escalation that may have more to do with Palestinian infighting.

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