The Israeli army has attributed the death of a pregnant Palestinian woman and her infant niece to Hamas on Sunday, refuting Palestinian claims that they were killed by Israeli airstrikes.
It confirmed in a statement the Palestinian reports that Salah Bat Abu Arar and her niece, Saba Abu Arar, were killed, saying, however, that their death was a result of a Hamas explosive device going off.
"Today we can say with certainty, after looking into the event, that they were killed as a result of an explosion of combustible materials during the activation of a Hamas explosive device," the statement said.
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The Gaza Health Ministry reported that Abu Arar, 37, who was eight months pregnant, was severely wounded in an Israeli air strike in eastern Gaza City and died of her wounds later Saturday evening.
Her 14-month-old niece, Saba Mahmoud, was killed instantly.
According to Palestinian reports, the toddler’s older sister was also wounded.
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Earlier, it was reported Saba Mahmoud was Abu Arar's daughter. The Palestinian Health Ministry has since issued a correction.
The army also said eight Islamic Jihad and Hamas militants had been killed so far in the strikes. They did not offer further details about the identity of those killed.
Israel had struck over 220 targets, said the statement, adding it bombed underground targets including a tunnel and weapons factories.
The army said they are turning their focus to smaller weapons manufacturing facilities, hidden in the homes of activists' families. "We are using armaments that are unique and of a high quality. The challenge, from our point of view, is to attack the weapons facility without harming the lives of the families."
Both Israel and the Palestinian factions have said their are preparing for a long campaign, denying any cease-fire negotiations.
Since the escalation began Saturday morning, one Israeli, Moshe Agadi, has been killed. Three Israelis, including an 80-year-old woman in serious condition, a 50-year-old man and a 45-year-old man were wounded by shrapnel as rockets fell on the Israeli south on Saturday.
Forty-seven Palestinians have been wounded, according to Palestinian reports.