Three Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip since the Wednesday evening, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported on Thursday. The deaths followed a massive barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into Israeli border communities beginning Wednesday evening, to which Israel retaliated, hitting some 150 targets in the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave.
One of those killed in Gaza was a member of the military wing of Hamas, who died in an Israeli strike at rocket launchers in northern Gaza. The two others, killed in the area of Dir al-Balah in central Gaza, were 23-year-old Inas Hamrash and her year-and-a-half-old daughter, Bayan. Reports from Gaza stated that the family's home was adjacent to a Hamas target that Israeli forces attacked. The child's father was seriously wounded in the attack and was hospitalized along with six others who were injured. He remains in critical condition. A funeral for Hamrash and her daughter were held on Thursday.
A family acquaintance told Haaretz that the Inas Hamrash was in the advanced stages of pregnancy and was asleep alongside her daughter when their home was struck. Her husband underwent surgery overnight for his wounds, the Gaza Health Ministry reported.
A neighbor said the family was of limited means and was renting the home. The husband worked an occasional job, the neighbor said.
The death of Hamrash and her daughter heightened tensions in Gaza. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said overnight that "the Palestinian resistance forces are determined to avenge the blood of the dead." Another Hamas spokesman, Abdel Kanwa, threatened that what he called "the brutal attack and the harm to civilians will not pass quietly," adding that Israel would pay the price. Against the backdrop of recent international efforts to try to come to an interim agreement between Israel and Hamas, Kanwa vowed that Israel would not dictate its terms.