At least 10 Palestinians, among them a senior militant, died in a series of Israeli airstrikes in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, local emergency services said on Saturday.

Israeli security forces reported that more than 45 missiles had been fired across the border into Israel in response, with one person seriously hurt and several others lightly injured.

The clashes erupted after the Israeli Air Force on Friday used rockets to destroy a blue Fiat Uno in southern Gaza that was carrying Zohair al-Qaisi, also known as Qais Ahmed, head of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC).

Another Palestinian militant from the northern West Bank city of Nablus, Mahmoud Hanani, also died in the attack.

The Israeli military claimed Al-Qaisi had been planning a major terrorist attack on Israel from the Sinai.

They also accused him of planning an attack in August on cars and buses to the north of Eilat, Israel’s port on the Red Sea. Eight Israelis died in that attack.

Hanani was released in a prisoner swap of 1,027 Palestinians for the Israeli soldier Gila Shalit in October.

Palestinians responded to the Israeli airstrike with a barrage of rockets and grenades across a border that has been relatively quiet recently, prompting a new response by the Israeli Air Force.

Israeli air defences said they had intercepted six rockets fired in the direction of the cities Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beersheba.

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