A Palestinian woman and her 14-month-old niece were killed in an Israeli assault east of Gaza City, the Palestinian Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip reported Saturday.
According to Palestinian sources, the aunt, Salah Bat Abu Arar, 37, who was eight months pregnant, was severely injured and died of her wounds later Saturday evening.
Her niece, Saba Mahmoud, was killed instantly in the assault.
According to Palestinian reports, the toddler’s older sister was also wounded.
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A 22-year-old man, Imad Nasier, died from tank fire aimed at Hamas positions in the northern Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
A fourth victim, identified as Khaled Abu Khalik, is said to have died in an Israeli strike on the northern Gaza Strip
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A statement released by the ministry said that nine people had been wounded in Israel Defense Forces strikes on the Gaza Strip. Among the wounded were a boy and a girl who suffered injuries to their extremities during an assault on Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip.
The IDF spokesman said that by evening, planes had attacked 30 Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets throughout the Strip. “Among the targets were a number of military compounds used for training and weapons manufacture. One of this served as a training compound for the organization’s naval forces. Another compound operated jointly by Hamas and Islamic Jihad was also attacked,” the spokesman said.
The IDF spokesman said that beginning Saturday morning, some 250 rockets had been launched at Israel, and that the Iron Dome missile defense system had intercepted dozens of them. Sirens were sounded in a number of communities in the lowlands and the south, among them Beit Shemesh, Kiryat Gat, Gedera, Gan Yavne, Kiryat Ekron, Ashdod, Ashkelon and the Gaza border area.
The IDF said it had attacked an Islamic Jihad tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip and that the air force would be continuing its attacks in the coming hours.
The Palestinian factions in Gaza claimed responsibility Saturday afternoon for the rocket fire on Israel in a statement issued from the command center operated jointly by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other factions. According to the statement, the rocket fire was a response to Israeli aggression and intentional harm to demonstrators and fighters. “We in the joint operations room are following Israeli actions and the extent to which it is committed to calm and we will respond accordingly.” The statement said the response would be “much harsher if the aggression continues.”
A Hamas political official told Haaretz that it would be inconceivable for the Eurovision Song Contest to take place in Tel Aviv if Gaza felt no relief. “It cannot be that they’ll sing and enjoy themselves in Tel Aviv while here we’ll get hit on the head,” he said. “There are understandings that were reached even before the elections and everything seems stuck because of Israeli foot-dragging,” he said, adding “there can’t be quiet before and during the Eurovision and we’re in the same situation – think what would happen if a missile is fired on the eve of the contest at the area."
According to the official, “the joint delegation of Hamas and Islamic Jihad now in Cairo includes a senior representation of the organizations’ military and political wings, and they can reach understandings if Israel is interested in doing so.”
On Friday, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported that two Palestinians were killed and two wounded by Israeli attacks. Another Palestinian was wounded by Israeli live fire in clashes east of Khan Yunis and later died of his wounds. The ministry spokesman later said that another Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire at protesters in the central Gaza Strip. The Hamas military wing confirmed that the men killed were members of its organization.