Israel's military pounded central Gaza with heavy air strikes Wednesday as international talks to secure a truce and hostage release deal resumed.

Tensions were high in annexed east Jerusalem as thousands of police guarded Israel's annual "flag march" that has sparked clashes between Jews and Arabs in previous years.

The bloodiest ever Gaza war raged on with jets bombing targets overnight and Palestinian officials reporting yet more deaths.

Urban combat and shelling intensified in Gaza's southern city of Rafah, while fighting resumed in central areas. The army announced targeted operational activity in the areas of Bureij and eastern Deir al-Balah.

Bombardment of central Gaza killed 11 people near the Al-Maghazi camp and two near Deir al-Balah, said witnesses and Palestinian civil defence and hospital officials.

The charity Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) said at least 70 dead and more than 300 wounded had been brought to Al-Aqsa hospital since Tuesday, after "heavy Israeli strikes" in central Gaza.

A source with knowledge of the negotiations confirmed to AFP that a meeting had taken place Wednesday between Qatari and Egyptian mediators with Hamas in Doha to discuss a deal for a truce in Gaza and the exchange of hostages and prisoners.

US President Joe Biden has deployed CIA chief Bill Burns to Qatar for a renewed push after months of back-and-forth negotiations.

Brett McGurk, Biden's top Middle East adviser, was headed to Cairo, according to news site Axios which quoted an administration source as talking of a "full-court press... to get a breakthrough".

Amid the Gaza war, tensions have also spiralled elsewhere in the region between Israel and its allies on the one hand, and Iran-backed armed groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen on the other.

The Israeli army and Lebanon's Hezbollah movement have traded near daily cross-border fire, causing deaths, forcing mass evacuations and igniting wildfires on both sides.
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