Gaza City Commander Bassem Issa is the most senior Hamas figure to be killed since the war seven years ago.
Israeli security services said he was one of 16 key Hamas operatives to die in the fighting that began on Monday.
Hundreds of missiles were fired from both sides – one of the last Wednesdays that resulted in the collapse of a 13-story office building in Gaza City.
Israeli forces said they fired a series of warning shots an hour before the attack on the tower, which they said contained Hamas intelligence officials, to allow civilians to escape.
It came after hundreds of rockets were fired from Gaza into Tel Aviv and its suburbs on Tuesday.
In Lod, about 10 miles from the city, a state of emergency was declared Wednesday morning amid clashes between Arab Israelis and Jewish Israelis.
Towns in the region where the two communities live side by side have turned violent in recent weeks, culminating in months of tension.
So far, the violence, which the UN says risks “Escalation to full-scale war”, killed at least 65 people in Gaza.
Palestinian health ministry says Palestinian death toll includes 16 children, plus six more inside Israeland five women. 365 others were injured.
Five civilians have been confirmed dead in Israel and more than 200 have been injured.
Russian media reported that a Hamas official said he was ready to stop the fighting on a mutual basis.
But Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) told Sky News the missile fire is expected to continue for now.
The rapid escalation of violence is condemned by the international community, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledging to send his top envoy to the region as soon as possible.
UN Security Council officials were due to meet in New York to discuss the situation today.
What the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas have to say:
Spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told Sky News that a rocket unit from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group was hit; a commander of a Hamas anti-tank missile unit, along with senior officials of Hamas’s military intelligence department, killed the commander of his Gaza City brigade and the Khan Yunis brigade.
The IDF says that of the roughly 1,000 Hamas rockets fired from Gaza, 850 landed in Israel or were intercepted, but 200 did not cross the border and landed in Gaza.
Hamas commanders have not responded to allegations that some of its own rockets may have misfired and killed Palestinians.
Rather, they spoke of the “honorable scene” of the bombing of the city of Tel Aviv – their specific target with its international airport – describing it as “the greatest achievement of this battle”.
Its spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said: “As the Israeli occupation has decided to launch a new war against Gaza, the Palestinian resistance led by the al Qassqm Brigades is determined to react and has the right to defend the Palestinian people.
“Today we declared that the resistance will act in self-defense against any Israeli violation, crime or atrocity.
“We consider the bombing of Tel Aviv to be the greatest achievement of this battle. “
In a rapidly escalating spiral of violence, there are developments on several fronts with:
• 56 dead in Gaza including 14 children and 6 dead in Israel. At least 335 were injured
• The collapse of several towers in Gaza
• Five civilians dead in Israel and more than 200 injured
• Israeli soldier killed in rocket attack, IDF says
What is happening elsewhere?
In addition to the airstrikes, in another alarming development, riots and civil unrest erupted overnight in several “mixed” Israeli towns.
These are cities in Israel (rather than the western bank) where Israeli Jews live alongside Israeli Arabs.
In a number of cities, including Acre, Nazareth and Lod, Israeli Arabs have protested in support of Palestinians who are considered under international law to be occupied by Israel.
The unrest, which led to the declaration of a state of emergency in Lod, east of Tel Aviv, represents a new schism and a challenge for the Israeli government to contain.
For Hamas, it plays into pretending to be the protectors of the Palestinians.
Hamas spokesman Barhoum said: “The street celebrations of Palestinians of the bombing of Tel Aviv across Palestine are a clear declaration of victory and indicate their awareness of successful resistance operations in response to the Israeli atrocities. “
The international response:
The fiercest fighting between the two enemies since 2014 has sparked global alarm, with the US, EU and UK all calling for Israel’s restraint, while claiming it has the right to stand still. defend.
They all demand that Hamas immediately stop its rocket attacks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that the UK was “deeply concerned about the rise in violence and
civilian casualties ”and called for“ an urgent de-escalation of tensions ”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the two sides must immediately stop the violence and send his top official to the region as soon as he can.
But behind the international rhetoric, there is no effective diplomatic strategy to stop the cycle.
And with Israel and the Palestinian West Bank both in disarray, all contact between the two sides is severed.
How the situation revived:
Violence started last weekend at al Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site in Judaism.
In a very provocative movement Israeli police entered mosque and threw stun grenades inside.
Palestinians were also angry at an Israeli police decision at the start of Ramadan to barricade the seating area outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.
This violence follows many months of ever-growing frustration on the part of Palestinians, with Jewish settlers spreading to unprecedented levels in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
There is also the issue of Sheikh Jarrah, the neighborhood in East Jerusalem where Palestinian families wage a court battle with Jewish settlers who want to take their homes, claiming the land is historically theirs.
And last month, Human Rights Watch released a major report accusing Israel of an apartheid process on the Palestinians.
Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and annexed it as their own, but most of the international community sees it as occupied land.
At the height of all recent events, Hamas began firing rockets from Gaza into Jerusalem on Monday evening and the conflict quickly escalated.