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Baby killed as Israel launches air strikes after rockets fired from Gaza

The Hamas rocket launches come as tensions in the region have ratcheted upwards.

Smokes and flames rise after an Israeli air strike in Gaza.
Smokes and flames rise after an Israeli air strike in Gaza.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA

GAZA MILITANTS FIRED dozens of rockets at Israel, which responded with strikes that killed at least one Palestinian, officials said, as another escalation between them threatened a fragile ceasefire.

Gaza officials say a baby was killed in an Israeli strike.

The ministry said “baby Sabaa Arar, aged one year and two months, was killed and her mother, who is pregnant, was seriously injured” when their house was hit by one of the Israeli strikes.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the military did not have any information on the incident. The army says it is targeting only military sites in its response to the rocket fire.

The latest flare-up came with Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the blockaded Gaza Strip, seeking further concessions from Israel under the ceasefire.

It comes after Four Palestinians, including two Hamas militants, were killed yesterday. 

Israel said around 150 rockets were fired from the Palestinian enclave by late this afternoon and its air defences intercepted dozens of them.

One woman was seriously injured in a rocket strike on the Israeli city of Kiryat Gat, some 20 kilometres  from the Gaza border, police said.

Police said a man was also hospitalised in the city of Ashkelon and spoke of other injuries without providing details.

A house near Ashkelon was damaged, while other rockets hit open areas.

The Israeli army said it had targeted two rocket launchers in Gaza with an air strike in an immediate response and its tanks and planes later hit some 30 military targets for Hamas and its ally Islamic Jihad.

A Gazan security source said a series of Israeli strikes targeted at least three separate areas of the Gaza Strip and that three “resistance fighters” were wounded.

The Gaza health ministry reported one person killed and seven wounded.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was holding consultations with security chiefs.

A statement from Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for at least some of the rocket fire and said it was prepared for more if necessary.

Its armed wing distributed a video showing militants handling rockets and threatening key Israeli sites, including Ben-Gurion international airport near Tel Aviv.

A source in the group said Egypt was engaged in discussions to calm the situation, as it has done repeatedly in the past.

Israel announced on Saturday afternoon that it was closing its people and goods crossings with Gaza as well as the zone it allows for fishermen off the enclave until further notice due to the rocket fire.

Visit to Cairo

The escalation follows the most violent clashes along the Gaza border in weeks yesterday.

Four Palestinians, including two Hamas militants, were killed after two Israeli soldiers were wounded in a shooting during weekly protests on the border.

Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have fought three wars since 2008 and fears remain of a fourth.

A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas brokered by Egypt and the United Nations had led to relative calm around Israel’s April 9 general election.

But on Tuesday, Israel reduced the offshore fishing limit it imposes for vessels operating out of Gaza after a rocket was fired from the territory.

Israel’s army blamed Islamic Jihad for the rocket, which fell into the Mediterranean.

On Thursday, Israel said its aircraft struck a Hamas military compound after balloons carrying firebombs and explosives were launched across the border.

Palestinians in Gaza have frequently fitted balloons with firebombs in a bid to damage Israeli property and have in the past succeeded in setting fire to large areas of farmland.

Following that air strike, Israel said two rockets were launched from Gaza.

With the ceasefire at risk, a Hamas delegation led by its Gaza head Yahya Sinwar left the enclave for Cairo on Thursday for talks with Egyptian officials.

The ceasefire has seen Israel allow Qatar to provide millions of dollars in aid to Gaza to pay salaries and to finance fuel purchases to ease a severe electricity shortage.

© – AFP 2019

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