An explosion is pictured among buildings during an Israeli airstike on Gaza City. - AFP

KUALA LUMPUR: A Harian Metro journalist, who is in the Gaza Strip as part of the Miles of Smiles mission, had a narrow escape this morning.

It is understood that a mortar shell lobbed by the Israeli army landed a mere 50 metres from his hotel in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The incident, which took place at 6.15am Gaza time (11.15am Malaysia time) today, resulted in several rooms at the hotel incurring shrapnel damage from the Israeli bomb.

Harian Metro journalist Tuan Asri Tuan Hussein, however, was unharmed.

The explosion was part of an exchange of fire between Palestinian fighters and Israeli forces, which was sparked on Friday evening along the border between the two territories, and which appears to be escalating.

According to Tuan Asri, eight Palestinians, including a 14-month-old baby, have been killed in the past 36 hours of tit-for-tat attacks.

He added that as of the time of this report, Palestinian fighters have launched 250 rockets in the direction of Israel.

The latest flare-up between the two sides is occuring as Hamas, the Islamist movement which rules the blockaded Gaza Strip, is seeking further concessions from Israel under an ongoing ceasefire, reports AFP.

A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, brokered by Egypt and the United Nations, had led to relative calm during Israel's April 9 general election. The ceasefire had seen Israel allowing Qatar to provide millions of dollars in aid to Gaza to pay workers’ salaries and finance fuel purchases to ease the suffering of Palestinians enduring a severe electricity shortage.

The violence comes on the heels of a Hamas delegation, led by its Gaza head Yahya Sinwar, visiting Cairo on Thursday for talks with Egyptian officials.

Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have fought three wars since 2008 - and fears are rising that a fourth may be on the cards.