At least three Palestinians, including a pregnant woman and her 18-month-old child, were killed by Israeli air attacks and artillery shelling on the besieged Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
The Israeli military claimed it launched the attacks late on Wednesday after about 150 rockets were fired from the besieged coastal enclave.
Israel’s military on Thursday warned Hamas against a further escalation in violence, and Israeli media said officials were considering evacuating residents from areas near the Gaza fence.
A senior military official was quoted as saying on the military’s Twitter account:
The official Palestinian news agency WAFA, citing health sources, reported at least one Palestinian was killed and 12 others were wounded.
The heavy exchange of fire comes as attempts to secure a ceasefire were reportedly making progress.
Abdullatif al-Kanoo, a spokesperson for the resistance group Hamas, said in a Twitter post on Thursday:
Wednesday’s exchange came just a day after two Palestinians in Gaza were killed by Israeli fire.
The dead Palestinians were identified as Ahmed Murjan and Abdel-Hafez al-Silawi, both 23 years old, and Hamas confirmed they were members of the group.
The attacks come as the UN and Egypt try to secure a deal between Israel and Hamas for a lasting truce.
Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said on Wednesday he was deeply alarmed by the recent escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel, and particularly by today’s mutiple rockets fired towards communities in southern Israel.
More than 150 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the Great March of Return protests were launched at the end of March. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper. At least 16,000 Palestinians have been wounded, according to health officials in Gaza.
The protests call for Palestinians to be able to return to the land they or their families fled or were expelled from in the 1948 war that established the state of Israel.
Israeli forces have launched three military assaults on the Gaza Strip since 2008.
Source: Palestine Chronicle