Gaza/Jerusalem: At least 35 Palestinians have died and some 200 have been injured since Israel launched a military operation dubbed Protective Edge to stop rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical sources said yesterday.
Health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said 11 people were killed Wednesday, including an 80-year-old woman and five children.
Five other people also died as the Israeli Air Force and naval artillery pounded the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli military said earlier that it had killed Islamist leader Abdullah Daif-Allahd, considered responsible for the firing of rockets against Israel, in a joint operation between the armed forces and the intelligence services.
Palestinian militias Tuesday night fired 45 rockets on central and southern Israel without causing casualties, and continued their attacks Wednesday, activating air raid alarms in the cities of Ashkelon and Tel Aviv.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) responded to the rocket attacks Tuesday night by bombing 160 targets of the Islamic factions in the Strip, leaving at least six people dead.
Five members of the al-Qassam Brigades were also killed while trying to infiltrate Israel through the sea.
Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted most of the rockets launched by the Palestinian side.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not ruled out a ground offensive against Gaza and Israel’s Security Cabinet has called up 40,000 reservists to gradually reinforce regular troops on the border with the Strip.
Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel should be prepared for a “long, continuous and tough campaign against Gaza”.
The latest crisis between Israel and the Palestinians erupted June 12, when Israel began a massive search for three Jewish seminary students who went missing in the West Bank and were found murdered last week.
Israel blamed the kidnappings on the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which has denied any role in the three Israelis’ deaths, and arrested 500 people, most of them linked to the group.
Tensions between the two sides flared after a Palestinian teenager was abducted in Jerusalem last week and found burned to death hours later in a revenge killing for the murders of the three Israeli students.
Israeli security forces have arrested six people in connection with the murder, one of whom has confessed and confirmed the involvement of the other accused.