Israeli air strikes shook Gaza every few minutes on Wednesday, and Hamas fighters kept up rocket fire at Israel’s heartland in intensifying warfare that Palestinian officials said has killed at least 22 Palestinians, including nine children, in the Hamas-dominated enclave.
The overall death toll has climbed to 44 in two days, the emergency services said.
Missiles from Israel’s Iron Dome defence system shot into the sky to intercept rockets launched, for the second straight day, at Tel Aviv, the country’s commercial capital.
Among the dead was at least one militant, as well as nine children and six women, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP.
Fighters in Gaza launched three rockets towards the southern Israeli town of Dimona and its nuclear reactor on Wednesday, causing no injury or damage, the Israeli military said.
It was not immediately clear whether the other fatalities were civilians or militants. In at least four of the strikes, the victims were all women and children. During the afternoon, a missile struck a house in Al-Maghazi, a beachside refugee camp near Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, killing a mother and her four children, Qudra said.
Earlier, another two women and four children died in a series of raids to the north and east of Gaza City. Mohammed Arif, 13, and his brother, Amir, 12 were killed in an air strike on Shejaiya, east of Gaza City, while an attack in nearby Zeitun district killed Amina Malaka, 27, and her 18-month-old son Mohammed, he said.
Further north, another missile hit Beit Hanun, killing 40-year-old Sahar al-Masri and her 14-year-old son Ibrahim, he added. An attack shortly after midnight leveled a house in the northern town of Beit Hanun, killing Hafez Hammad, a senior Islamic Jihad commander, and five relatives, including two women and a 16-year-old girl.
In Mughraqa in central Gaza, medics retrieved the body of 80-year-old Naifeh Farajallah from the rubble of her house damaged in an earlier air strike. In the same area, an Israel missile killed two men in a field near Nusseirat refugee camp. Medics named them as Abdel Nasser Abu Kweik, 60, and his son Khaled, 31. Elsewhere, a 30-year-old man was killed in a pre-dawn strike on the southern city of Rafah. And in the northern town of Beit Lahiya, a missile struck a motorcycle leaving a 30-year-old man clinically dead and severely wounding a second person.
Since the start of Operation Protective Edge early Tuesday, Israeli warplanes have struck 550 targets in Gaza.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2014.