Israeli-Palestinian violence
A man stands on a chair next to rubble, in the aftermath of deadly Israeli strikes, in the northern Gaza Strip May 12, 2023. Reuters

Fighting subsided across the Israel-Gaza border on Friday after days of Israeli air strikes and Palestinian rocket fire disrupted life for millions of people, amid Egyptian efforts to cement a ceasefire.

Israeli forces launched a campaign against the Islamic Jihad militant group's leadership in the early hours on Tuesday, accusing them of planning attacks on Israel. Islamic Jihad, the second largest armed group in Gaza after the ruling Islamist Hamas, has since fired over 800 rockets, some deep into Israel.

At least 31 Palestinians in Gaza, including women and children, have been killed in the past three days of fighting, while one person in Israel was killed when an apartment was struck by a rocket in a Tel Aviv suburb.

In Gaza, a small impoverished coastal territory blockaded by Israel and Egypt since 2007, people woke up to empty streets, many keen for a respite after days of explosions.

Amin Abuelkheir hoped to reopen his fish restaurant after closing it four days ago. "Our life has stopped, the sea is closed to us, and we have stock that we are unable to sell. We hope there will be a truce," Abuelkheir said.

A tense calm allowed Israelis, still on alert, to venture away from shelters at the start of the weekend and make Sabbath preparations with the last air raid siren sounding late on Thursday.

The latest flare-up caps more than a year of resurgent Israeli-Palestinian violence that has killed more than 140 Palestinians and at least 19 Israelis and foreigners since January in a seemingly never-ending cycle.

Islamic Jihad spurns co-existence with Israel and preaches its destruction. Top ministers of Israel's current religious nationalist government rule out any state sought by Palestinians in territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

Egypt is continuing to mediate truce efforts, but an official announcement has yet to emerge. Two Palestinian officials familiar with the talks said the sides were debating a draft proposed by Cairo.

Among truce terms, Islamic Jihad wants Israel to commit to ending strikes against its leaders. Israel has rejected that. Israel appeared to be hoping that Islamic Jihad, if depleted of rockets and commanders, would halt hostilities unilaterally.

At least 80 people have been injured in the air strikes that destroyed five buildings and damaged more than 300 apartments Gaza, where residents have been experiencing decades of a worsening humanitarian crisis.

Israel's military said that over 100 Palestinian rockets - many of them improvised - had fallen short, killing four people inside Gaza, including a 10-year-old girl. Islamic Jihad denied that its rockets had caused deaths in Gaza.

Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in the 1967 war, as well as East Jerusalem which Palestinians want for their capital. Israeli forces and settlers withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Statehood talks between Israel and the mainstream Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank, have been frozen since 2014.