Israel, Hamas continue to exchange fire

Fierce fighting continues between the Israeli military and the Palestinian militant group Hamas as negotiations for a ceasefire are underway behind the scenes.

The Israeli military carried out airstrikes on Hamas strongholds on Thursday, while ground troops deployed outside the border with the Gaza Strip fired artillery shells toward the enclave.

Hamas, which effectively controls the Gaza Strip, fired mortars at Israeli military positions in southern Israel.

The fighting has claimed 227 lives in Gaza and 12 in Israel.

A senior official of Hamas told Lebanon's al-Mayadeen TV on Wednesday that he expects a ceasefire to be reached with Israel within days.

US President Joe Biden spoke over the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday for the fourth time since the current round of fighting between Israeli troops and Hamas began on May 10.

A White House spokesperson told reporters that Biden told the Israeli leader that he expects a "significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire."

But in a statement released soon after the spokesperson's remarks, Netanyahu said he is determined to continue the Gaza operation until quiet and security are restored to the citizens of Israel.

Behind-the-scenes negotiations for a ceasefire are underway, but there have been no concrete moves that could lead to a breakthrough.