The escalation was sparked by Hamas firing a rocket that wounded several members of a British-Israeli family on Monday morning.
At around 10pm on Monday, Egyptian mediators managed to broker a ceasefire between the two sides, as they have done during several other flare-ups of violence in recent months.
The ceasefire took several hours to take hold and airstrikes and rocket fire continued in the early hours of Tuesday. Millions of civilians on both sides spent the night in fear as the fighting continued.
However, by mid-morning the situation was tense but calm. Palestinian children went to school in Gaza as usual but school was cancelled for Israeli children in several districts in the country’s south.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, cut short a trip to Washington to return to Israel to manage the situation. Mr Netanyahu, who is also Israel’s defence minister, was due to arrive in Israel in the afternoon and hold meetings with security chiefs.
“We have responded very, very forcefully,” Mr Netanyahu said before departing Washington.
“Hamas needs to know that we will not hesitate to go in and take all necessary steps – regardless of anything, any date, other than Israel’s security needs.”
However, the negotiations have yielded few results and Hamas is believed to be trying to inject fresh urgency into the talks by firing rockets while at the same time avoiding a full-blown war.