The Israeli security cabinet and the Hamas Palestinian group have accepted an Egyptian recommendation for 'a mutual ceasefire' in the conflict in Gaza from 2am on Friday.

The reports of a ceasefire came amid a flurry of diplomatic efforts on the 11th day of deadly violence between Israel and armed Palestinian groups in Gaza, as air strikes again hammered the enclave.

In the southern Gaza town of Rafah, devastating Israeli air strikes turned buildings into clouds of dust and rubble, as an ambulance sped across town to help the wounded on Thursday afternoon, an AFP reporter said. 

Rocket fire from Gaza also intensified in the afternoon, sending Israelis living on its borders running into shelters, according to Israeli army warnings.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres told the General Assembly Thursday that "the fighting must stop immediately", calling the continued exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian groups "unacceptable".

"If there is a hell on earth, it is the lives of children in Gaza," Guterres added.

News of the Israeli security cabinet meeting came after pressure mounted to end the bloodshed, following US President Joe Biden's call for a "significant de-escalation".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier vowed to push on until the military campaign reached its objective, "to restore quiet and security" for Israelis.

UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland was visiting Qatar for talks with Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of Hamas, as part of an effort to "restore calm," according to a diplomatic source.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said "indirect talks" with Hamas were essential to advancing efforts toward an end of hostilities.

"Of course Hamas has to be included, because without Hamas there will be no ceasefire," Merkel said, who also spoke to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas Thursday, where they agreed the need "for a speedy ceasefire".

Her foreign minister, Heiko Maas, speaking earlier near Tel Aviv, expressed Germany's  "solidarity" with Israel but also called for an end to the fighting.

"Israel has the right to defend itself against this massive and unacceptable attack," Maas said of the rockets Hamas first fired on May 10, following violent clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

"The number of victims is rising every day and this greatly concerns us".

A senior Hamas official told AFP: "We expect a return to calm in the coming hours, or tomorrow (Friday), but it depends on the cessation of the aggression of the occupation forces in Gaza and Jerusalem.

"But there is nothing definitive for the moment," added the source, indicating that Qatar, an emirate that hosts Haniyeh and sends financial aid to Gaza, was at the heart of "intense" negotiations. 

The Israeli army said Hamas and other Islamist armed groups in Gaza have fired 4,070 rockets towards Israel, but the overwhelming majority of those headed for populated areas were intercepted by its Iron Dome air defences.

The rockets have claimed 12 lives in Israel, including two children and an Israeli soldier, with one Indian and two Thai nationals among those killed, the police say.

Israeli strikes on Gaza have killed 232 Palestinians, including 65 children, fighters and another 1,900 wounded, according to the Gaza health ministry, leaving vast areas in rubble and displacing some 120,000 people, according to Hamas authorities. 

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