An Israeli air strike wounded a Palestinian gunman in the Gaza Strip before dawn on Saturday, medics in the Hamas Islamist controlled territory said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed that an aerial attack was launched under cover of darkness against Gaza militants preparing to fire a rocket at Israel, east of Gaza City. One gunman was injured, a rescue crew member in Gaza said.

Israel has stepped up its air strikes on coastal Gaza this week in response to a resurgence in rocket strikes at Israeli towns that have caused no injury but disrupted routine.

The Israel Defense Forces said 16 rockets fired from Gaza have struck Israel this month some of which damaged buildings. Israel said it responded to shooting on Thursday with aerial strikes on tunnels dug beneath Gaza's border with Egypt.

Following the aerial attack early Saturday morning, a Qassam rocket was reported to have struck an open area in Israel’s Eshkol region.

Israel Air Force launched retaliatory strikes early Friday that left at least five Palestinians wounded and one missing in the Gaza Strip, witnesses and officials in the territory said.

The witnesses said that IAF fighter jets struck a smuggling tunnel under the border between southern Gaza and Egypt, where five people were wounded. The IDF spokesman's office said the strikes were in response to response to six homemade missiles fired by militants from Gaza toward towns in southern Israel, marking escalating tension along the Gaza border for the first time in two months.

Rescue teams rushed to the scene and sent three people with moderate wounds and two with minor injuries by ambulance to the nearby Rafah hospital, Gaza emergency chief Adham Abu Selmeyeh said.

Earlier, IAF jets carried out two airstrikes late Thursday against another smuggling tunnel and an empty area inside Gaza.