Gaza rocket hits near southern Israeli city in show of defiance


Israel's latest attack on Gaza was characterized as the largest escalation since 2014, when Israel killed more than 2,000 Palestinians in a seven-week military operation.

The strike on the building in Gaza City wounded 18 Palestinians.

Overnight on Wednesday, three Palestinians - including a woman and her 18-month-old baby - were killed by an Israeli air strike inside Gaza.

In a statement, Hamas added that they hold Israel responsible for the latest escalation and called for worldwide intervention "to prevent the rapid escalation on the ground".

Ambulance sirens echoed through the night in Gaza, where families huddled at home as powerful explosions thundered through the strip.

A picture taken on August 8, 2018 shows a fireball exploding during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City.

While some local media outlets were reporting that Muhammad succumbed to his wounds early Thursday afternoon, the Gaza Ministry of Health has maintained that he is still in critical condition and being treated in the ICU.

Israeli sirens continued to blare, warning of incoming rockets, while airstrikes hit more targets in Gaza, even after Palestinian factions declared that the round of violence was "over". Palestinians have thrown explosive devices and opened fire at forces along the border in numerous instances over the past few months, the military said. Across the border rocket warning sirens sounded nearly non-stop from sunset on Wednesday in Israeli towns and villages where residents sheltered in bunkers.

In southern Israel, two Thai laborers were among the seven wounded by rocket fire, and rockets damaged buildings in the cities of Sderot and Ashkelon.

The flare-up, however, will distract from finding a more lasting solution to Gaza's long term economic problems, he said.

Israeli Army Radio said Palestinian militants had fired a Grad missile capable of reaching Israel's heartland.

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Twenty-four of the slain protesters were minors, the ministry has said.

The 140-square-mile strip, under partial blockade by Israel for more than a decade, suffers from chronic unemployment and a lack of infrastructure and services.

The health ministry added that around 12 Palestinians were injured, two critically, and were transferred to the hospital for treatment.

"Bayan was sleeping with her mother and father".

Hamas is demanding the lifting of an Israeli-Egyptian border blockade that has devastated Gaza's economy, while Israel wants an end to rocket fire, as well as recent border protests and launches of incendiary balloons, and the return of the remains of two dead soldiers and two Israelis believed to be alive and held by Hamas.

The Israeli military said it only struck military targets, including production sites for weapons and tunnels.

The third slain Palestinian, reportedly a Hamas fighter, was killed in an airstrike in northern Gaza.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas called on the worldwide community to "immediately and urgently intervene".

"If the current escalation, however, is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people", he said in a statement.

Protests and clashes along the Gaza border began on March 30 and peaked with the May 14 move of the US Embassy for Israel to the disputed city of Jerusalem.

After a sleepless night for residents of Gaza and nearby Israeli communities on Wednesday, there was little respite on Thursday morning.