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UN chief says Gaza on 'knife edge'

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Gaza is on "a knife edge" and the Middle East faces one of its most serious challenges in years.

SDEROT, Southern Israel: Tensions between Israel and Gaza are hovering dangerously close to boiling point.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that Hamas will pay a heavy price for the hundreds of rockets it has fired across the border.

On Wednesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Gaza is on "a knife edge" and the Middle East faces one of its most serious challenges in years.

Ban said he had spent the day talking with world leaders including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, as well as US Secretary of State John Kerry.

It came as Israeli warplanes pounded Gaza, killing dozens in a major new confrontation with Palestinian militants, as Hamas flexed its firepower and sent thousands running for shelters across the country.

Channel NewsAsia travelled to Sderot, an Israeli town that is situated less than a mile away from Gaza, to find out just how residents there are coping.

For the citizens of southern Israel, the sound of sirens are nothing new.

As hundreds of rockets from Gaza take deadly aim at the city, residents there are preparing for war.

Under Israeli law, every house has to have a safe room or bomb shelter.

And that's exactly what saved the lives of Avichai Jorano and his family.

When a Qassam rocket made a direct hit on his house, his wife and children were inside the bomb shelter.

Jorano said: "Here the rocket entered, through this wall towards the bathroom. Everything here was destroyed. The bedroom, the entire room is a wreck, everything is damaged".

Sderot's mayor is updated around the clock of rocket attacks on his city.

Mayor Alon Davidi said: "It's very tough, you know, to be under attack. It's a very tough situation, especially with the kids."

Just over a week ago, a paint factory was directly hit by two rockets, and a massive fire burnt the building to the ground.

For owner Baruch Kogen it was 50 years of hard work that, in minutes, went up in flames.

Kogen, owner of Denber Paint, said: "I hope there will be a war to end it, we cannot live like this. We are always under attack all the time. Even in peace times, we are under attack. And now, we get 30 missiles a day. It's something crazy."

The rocket attacks are now hitting as far north as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

The Israeli government has warned that it will fight back and that Hamas will pay the price.

In the Gaza Strip, where Israel has been carrying out a widespread aerial campaign, the armed wing of the Hamas movement announced it had fired two M75 rockets at Tel Aviv.

"The Qassam Brigades struck Tel Aviv with two M75 rockets," the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement.

The locally-produced M75 rocket has a range of about 80 kilometres, able to reach Tel Aviv, which lies around 70 kilometres from the Gaza Strip.

This is the first time in nearly two years that Hamas has claimed responsibility for rocket attacks into Israel.

But for frustrated residents caught in the line of fire, the Hamas statement do not mean anything. They only want a change to the situation.

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