An Israeli soldier ties a national flag to the antenna of a tank as his unit prepares to enter the northern Gaza Strip Reuters

Israel has launched air strikes on the Gaza Strip, disrupting the two-year-old ceasefire. Security sources have confirmed that the Israeli military struck four Hamas sites in Gaza between 4-5 May. The attacks came after mortars were fired at Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers who were stationed near the Israel-Gaza border on 4 May.

Palestinian sources told news media that the air strikes wounded four people, three of whom were children, according to AFP. The IDF confirmed that no soldiers were injured in the mortar attacks.

An IDF representative said: "Overnight, in response to the ongoing attacks against Israeli forces, an IAF aircraft targeted four Hamas terrorist infrastructure sites in the northern Gaza Strip."

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) has said it would continue protecting its civilians from all Hamas terrorist threats.

Haaretz [subscription required] reported that at least five mortar attacks had been against IDF troops from Gaza, before the air strikes.

After the overnight strikes, the Associated Press has reported an Israeli spokesperson Peter Lerner as saying: "Our efforts to locate and destroy the Hamas terror tunnel network are our main priority due to the serious threat to the lives and well-being of Israeli civilians."

New Hamas tunnel found

Just a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Gaza border region, mortars were fired at a group of Israel forces, but no soldiers were hit. Netanyahu was visiting the entrance of a newly discovered Hamas tunnel that reached into Israeli territory, according to reports.

Voicing his concern over this sudden escalation at Gaza strip, a UN special coordinator Nickolay Mladenov has said, "it is critical that peace be maintained to ensure the safety and security of Israelis and Palestinians alike", the DW reported.

The border region is said to have remained fairly quiet since a ceasefire was signed in 2014. Israel and Palestine entered into a long-term ceasefire agreement — with Egypt mediating — in August 2014, after a seven-week conflict left more than 2,200 people dead.