Residents reported heavy Israeli fire in central Gaza Friday, with regional tensions soaring after Iran threatened reprisals over a strike in Syria this month that killed two Iranian generals.

As talks for a truce and hostage release dragged on, fears that Iran could soon launch an attack on Israel prompted the US to announce it was sending reinforcements to the Middle East as a deterrent.

Mohammed al-Rayes, 61, said he fled Israeli "air strikes and artillery shelling" in Nuseirat, central Gaza overnight.

"It was all fire and destruction, with so many martyrs lying in the street," he said.

Another resident, Laila Nasser, 40, reported "shells and missiles" throughout the night.

"They will do to Nuseirat what they did to Khan Yunis," said Nasser, vowing to flee to the southernmost city of Rafah, like most of Gaza's population.

Israeli troops pulled out of the devastated city of Khan Yunis last week after months of heavy fighting, but officials said the move was in preparation for an assault on Hamas fighters in Rafah.

Authorities in the Hamas-ruled territory reported dozens of new air strikes in Gaza's central region.

Israel's military said its aircraft had struck more than 60 targets in Gaza over the previous day.

The Hamas media office said 25 people were taken to hospital in Deir al-Balah city "as a result of an air strike on a house".

The latest bombardments in Gaza came after Israel said it had strengthened air defences and paused leave for combat units, following a deadly April 1 air strike that destroyed Iran's consulate building in Damascus.

Iran blamed its arch foe Israel, which has stepped up strikes against Iran-linked targets in Syria since the Gaza war began.

US President Joe Biden sent the head of US Central Command, General Michael Kurilla, to Israel for urgent talks. The White House said Friday the threat from Iran remained "real".

"We are moving additional assets to the region to bolster regional deterrence efforts and increase force protection for US forces," a Pentagon official said.

After meeting Kurilla Friday, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel and the US were "shoulder to shoulder" in facing the threat from Iran, despite recent differences over the conduct of the war in Gaza.
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