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Israeli soldiers stand near a car that was direct hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on the Kibbutz Erez. Photo: Ilia Yefimovich/picture alliance via Getty Images

More than 600 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip within 24 hours on Sunday, killing at least 4 Israeli civilians for the first time since the 2014 war with Hamas, AP reports.

The big picture: The barrage of rocket attacks marks one of Israel and Gaza's "most intense flareups of violence in years," per AP. The Israeli military said it retaliated with 0ver 220 airstrikes against "high-quality" militant sites, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promising that Hamas will be held accountable for both its own actions and the actions of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, which operates out of Gaza.

  • Israel's military said 8 militants were killed in retaliatory airstrikes. Palestinian officials said the strikes killed at least 18, though IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus claimed several civilians — including a pregnant woman and her niece — were killed by a misfired Palestinian rocket. "The conflicting accounts could not immediately be reconciled," AP notes.
  • The deadly exchange comes in spite of a truce agreed to last month, with Egypt and the United Nations engaged in efforts to "broker a longer-term ceasefire," BBC News reports.

Go deeper: The latest on the White House's upcoming "peace plan"

Go deeper

10 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.