Baby among three killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot attends a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting at the Knesset

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot attends a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting at the Knesset

More than a dozen Israelis were hurt Wednesday night as Gaza's ruling Hamas terrorist organization launched a massive, evening-long rocket attack on southern Israel.

Palestinian health officials said on Wednesday that two of the victims were a pregnant woman and her 18-month old child as the Israeli army claimed it bombed Hamas military targets in the enclave in response to rocket fires.

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

The IDF posted some raw footage of the rocket attacks, from which at least 17 people were treated for bodily and shock injuries, Jerusalem Post reports.

Hamas, the Islamist group that runs the Strip, named the dead man as Ali Ghandour, saying he was a member of the group's armed wing.

Smoke plumes could be seen rising from Gaza City following the military's announcement it was targeting "terror sites in the Gaza Strip".

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"I am deeply alarmed by the recent escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel, and particularly by today's multiple rockets fired towards communities in southern Israel", UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement.

The strikes came after at least two of dozens of rockets launched from the coastal enclave hit the Israeli town of Sderot, near Gaza's northern border, police and the army said.

Gaza residents reported several Israeli airstrikes after the Palestinian rocket barrage.

According to IDF, the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted two of eight rockets fired.

The United Nations condemned the Hamas rocket fire.

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There were no immediate reports of fresh Israeli injuries or damage.

Human rights groups have accused Israeli troops of using excessive force at the protests, but the military said they only opened fire in self-defence or on people trying to infiltrate its territory.

Gaza has been controlled by Hamas for more than a decade, during which time it has fought three wars against Israel, most recently in 2014.

The escalation comes after the Hamas leadership convened for a rare meeting in Gaza on Friday.

More than 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the Great March of Return protests were launched at the end of March.

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The Hamas official reportedly said the truce agreement will begin with a two-week cease-fire trial period beginning in late August in accordance with ongoing talks mediated by Egypt. The IDF later suggested the incident was a misunderstanding, as the tank returned fire in response to the shots fired as part of a ceremony of the al-Qassam Brigades, which were not deliberately aimed at Israeli soldiers, Haaretz reported.

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