UPDATES DEATH TOLL, ADDS PA REACTION
By Mustafa Deveci
JERUSALEM (AA) - At least three Palestinians have been martyred in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, Gaza’s Health Ministry said Thursday.
They include a pregnant woman and her 18-month-old child, according to ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra.
Twelve others have been injured in the strikes, including the woman’s husband.
The Palestinian government called on the international community to intervene urgently to stop the Israeli escalation in the blockaded Gaza Strip.
"The Israeli government and the U.S. administration are responsible for the escalation in the Gaza Strip and for the continuation of the blockade for 11 years," Yousuf al-Mahmoud, a government spokesman, said in a statement.
"The grave threat to the Palestinian cause as a whole requires reconciliation and the restoration of national unity immediately, through fully empowering the government in the Gaza Strip, as agreed by the Egypt-brokered deal," he said.
In an earlier statement, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) said its fighter jets targeted 12 terror sites in the Gaza Strip.
"As of now, approximately 70 rocket launches were identified from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory. The 'Iron Dome' aerial defense system intercepted 11 launches; the majority of the rockets hit open areas," the IAF said on its Twitter account.
The Israeli press reported that nine Israelis had been injured.
In a written statement, the Ezzeddin al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility for the attacks, which came after two of its fighters were killed by Israeli fire on Tuesday.
“Hamas hit the 'enemy' with a large number of rockets,” it said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened an emergency meeting of the security cabinet due to the growing tensions in the Gaza Strip which was attended by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and senior commanders.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Israeli army shelled a Hamas military position in Gaza in retaliation for an alleged attack from the Palestinian side that targeted its heavy equipment on the Gaza-Israeli border.